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Albany considers potential casino deal

ALBANY -- The city of Albany just needs to back Rensselaer's plan of building a casino and they get $10 million. Sounds like a no brainer. But city officials are having a hard time making up their minds.

"So who says, 'No they don't want any extra money?' Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin said. "Who says, "No they don't want extra jobs for the residents of their city and other economic opportunities for businesses with in our city?'"

McLaughlin, and other common council members, admit it's an enticing deal. But they want more specifics from Rensselaer Mayor Dan Dwyer, who pitched the proposal, as well as from the other Albany city officials.

"I'm not so caught up in the million dollars I'm caught up in the jobs for the people of the city of Albany," Common Council Member Ron Bailey, who represents Ward 3, said.

But just hours before the common council was expected to vote council members saw no concrete numbers.

"And that may be because in some regard [Dwyer] does not have all of that information either because he cannot speak for the casino operator he can only speak for the city of Rensselaer," McLaughlin said.

However, there is also no clear cut plan on the table from the casino developers in East Greenbush, who city leaders say have tried to court Albany with a $7 million proposal.

"You can't make a decision on one without having information from both," McLaughlin said.

But a group of people who live in the Capital Region have already heard enough.

"Don't endorse a casino in Rensselaer County," Save East Greenbush volunteer Cara Benson said. "I can tell that we had over 2,500 signatures on our petition opposing a casino in the area. The developers are looking to suck money out of a community for their profit. That's solely what happens."

Either way, the State Gaming Commission is expected to issue one license to operate a casino in the Capital Region and some city leaders in Albany are afraid if they don't accept Rensselaer's offer another municipality will scoop it up.

"I was told yesterday by County Executive Dan McCoy that if the city let it go he's coming for it," Bailey said.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy was out of the office Monday and therefore was not able to confirm or deny whether the county will try to make a deal with Rensselaer. However, that deal could only happen if the Albany Common Council denies Rensselaer's deal and if Rensselaer then makes an offer to Albany County.
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