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A recently released state report says the Catskills and the Hudson Valley will see hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and property tax relief if casino gaming is approved by the public in November. Our Eva McKend has more from Sullivan County advocates who are working to get out the vote and opponents who say gaming is the last thing the area needs.
MONTICELLO, N.Y. -- For many in Sullivan County, the public vote for legal gambling coming up in November is deeply personal. To them, casinos mean jobs.
"I grew up here and for 40 years, we've been looking forward to casino gaming," said Steven Kurlander, Vice President of Citizens for New York State Gaming.
"I went to school with a lot of people and we were told that you should become teachers when you graduate and now most of them are unemployed," said Terri Ward, President of the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce.
A new state report shows passing the casino referendum in New York could result in $430 million worth of revenue. That includes $2 million worth of school aid and tax relief for people in Sullivan County.
The Citizens for New York State Gaming has already held two rallies in Rock Hill and have plastered "vote yes" signs throughout the region.
"We've met with officials throughout the state. We are sending representatives to meet with Chambers of Commerces and other important entities in each individual county," said Kurlander.
"We have a lot of developers sitting on a whole bunch of land and they are just waiting, waiting for something to happen in Sullivan County," said Ward.
Not everyone in Sullivan County is pro casino. At the Catskill Mountainkeeper, they say the community should look to eco-tourism as a way to revive the local economy.
"The truth is that the state is just making these numbers up and they are not being straight with the people of New York. If you really want to understand the costs and the benefits of gambling, you would have an independent study. The state and the Governor are pro gambling and we know that from the language of the referendum," said Ramsay Adams, Executive Director of the Catskill Mountainkeeper.
Opponents, like Adams, say casinos are predatory economic engines that prey on the poor.
In just a few weeks, it will be up to the voters to decide if their position has merit or if gaming is the shot in the arm struggling rural economies need.