Legislature votes to support Howe Caverns casino bid

Montgomery County legislators voted 8-1 Wednesday to support Schoharie County’s bid for a casino at Howe Caverns.

The vote was taken at a special meeting held just before County Executive Matthew Ossenfort’s budget presentation. Officials from Schoharie County made a presentation to the legislature asking for Montgomery County’s support.

Last week, the president of Capital District Off-Track Betting asked legislators to support a casino in Rensselaer County. At that meeting, legislators decided not to act until they had heard what representatives of other potential sites had to say. Legislature Chairman Thomas Quackenbush scheduled Wednesday’s meeting in time for OTB officials to make a presentation to the state Gaming Commission Sept. 8.

Jeffrey C. Hyman of Howe Caverns Resort and Casino LLC called the casino project “truly transformative,” referring to the possible creation of 300 construction jobs and 1,700 permanent casino-related jobs. He also said work on the casino could begin almost immediately.

“There is no site better prepared than ours,” he said. “We would be able to start in weeks.”

District 7 Legislator Barbara Wheeler was enthusiastic about Schoharie County’s presentation.

“You [Schoharie County] were always our second choice,” she said. “What happens to us happens to you. I like what you said. The demographics you bring are exactly what we need.”

District 1 Legislator Marrtin P. Kelly cast the lone negative vote; he has consistently voted against any measure regarding a casino.

“I cannot support anything that preys on the very people we’re supposed to be helping,” he said.

John Becker

John Becker is both a Reporter and Consulting Editor for The Compass. He and his wife Pat operate Abbey Farms in Amsterdam NY.