Over the last 5 years, certain parts of the United States have either witnessed an expansion of legalized gambling, or have witnessed an attempt to expand the scope of legalized gambling. For most people, when they hear this they first think of places like Connecticut and Massachusetts, both of which are attempting to get their brick and mortar casino industries up and running. Another state that often flies under the radar is New York.
To the surprise of many, there is not the biggest of gambling industries in the Empire State. With New York City and all the visitors it brings in on an annual basis, you would think that if New York were to begin building casinos, it would start there. The reality of the matter, however, is that upstate New York is the region that is really seeing a casino boom. In recent days, a newly-elected official from Utica made it clear that he would like to see the state’s next casino built in downtown Utica.
The Groundwork is Being Laid
To provide some context, upstate New York, unlike parts of New Hampshire and Connecticut, has been extremely open to the idea of legalized gambling. Though New York City may rake in a larger number of annual visitors, the natural beauty of upstate New York sees it have a booming tourism industry of its own. As such, it makes sense that local governments would attempt to squeeze more money out of these tourists by building resort casinos, much like Pennsylvania has.
Oneida County New York, where Utica is located, is where the state’s next casino just might be located. Newly-elected county executive Anthony Picente Jr. recently told a local newspaper that he plans on approaching the Oneida Indian Nation about jumping on board a downtown Utica casino project.
He said, “My point to that is, if (the Oneidas) are going to build in this region, why not help select where they build so we can maximize the revenues?”
If built, a Utica casino would be located within 100 miles of another recently-opened casino—Rivers Casino, located in Schenectady. Citing the decent performance of Rivers, proponents of the Utica site feel as though a new casino is a great way to capitalize on tourism dollars. As it stands right now, any downtown Utica casino is nothing more than a nice idea. There have been almost no steps taken to actually make this happen. Despite this, what we do know is that upstate New York, at seemingly every turn, is making it very clear that they would like to bring legalized gambling to the area. We will follow this story and any other developments regarding the upstate New York casino industry.