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Albany backs Rensselaer casino with conditions

ALBANY – Common Council members approved a resolution supporting the proposed casino in Rensselear Monday night in hopes of getting $10 million.

Rensselaer Mayor Dan Dwyer put forward an offer of $1 million annually for ten years in exchange for the city’s exclusive support of the proposed Hard Rock Casino and Resort. The money would be used for infrastructure, job growth other expenses incurred by the city if the casino is placed nearby. 

The council voted 12-3 to pass a resolution supporting the Rensselaer Casino, but stopped short of exclusivity. As written, the resolution calls for using the money to train and otherwise prepare Albany residents for casino jobs. It also mandates a written agreement with Rensselaer and the developer.

“I think that everybody took a look at it and, it’s not about the $1 million, it’s about jobs. People are struggling. We need jobs and if we can get it across the river and they’ll work with us, that’s what we need,” said Councilman Ron Bailey, who sponsored the resolution.

It was not immediately clear if Dwyer would accept the resolution without the exclusivity agreement.

Council President Carolyn McLaughlin noted the developers proposing a casino in East Greenbush were holding a job fair, but did not reach out to Albany city leaders to have them bring their residents.

Dwyer imposed a deadline to pass the resolution of 8:30 p.m. Monday however the council didn’t begin discussions until after 9 p.m. with a vote coming about 20 minutes later. Bailey said he was in contact with the mayor and didn’t think he would mind the delay, but some council members were irked at the way the negotiation was handled and brought forward.

“Nothing was in writing. We put the million in writing, into our resolution,” said Councilwoman Leah Golby who voted against the resolution. “It did cause me to pause and consider it, but at the end of the day I don't like the bullying. I don't like the artificial deadlines.”