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Forum held for casino plans in Lake George

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Updated: 5/01/2013 9:57 am

LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. - The tourist town of Lake George is looking into the idea of casino gambling.

Lake George Mayor Robert Blais held a public forum Tuesday evening to get a sense of where residents stand on casino gambling in Warren County.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has outlined a plan to boost tourism and economic development by allowing as many as three resort gambling casinos in upstate New York. The proposal would be subject to a referendum. Officials in Saratoga Springs and Essex County have already expressed an interest in a gambling casino.

"It's a complex subject especially for Lake George which has been known for decades as a family oriented resort," explained Mayor Robert Blais.

Bob Sturges, former presidents of Carnival Cruises' gaming division was present at the forum to make the case for a casino resort. "I believe it's a tremendous economic engine," he said.

Sturges estimates it would create at least 2,000 jobs and $300 million in revenue.

But with all the positive talk for a casino, dozens of people were frustrated that only one side was presented. "The most disappointing part of the meeting was we only have one side here," said Karen Azer, a resident from Warren county.

Some also made the argument that a casino resort would actually take business away from smaller mom and pop restaurants and hotels. "People get bussed in bussed out they don't spend time at the community at large," said Azer.

The meeting also brought out business owners who wanted to see change in a community that see's most of its business during the summertime.  "Lake George needs to be year-round resort," said one local resident.

"As many people know, in the off season it's very difficult to live here," said John Carr, owner of the Adirondack Pub and Brewery.

As residents voiced their opposition and their concerns, at the end of the night they took a vote on whether they favored a casino in this family friendly town. 

The votes will be counted up in a few days.  The mayor tells the NEWS CENTER this is just the beginning stages. He plans to hold more of these meetings so people can make an educated decision before deciding whether they want a casino to be established in Lake George. He plans to have the other side presented at the next meeting which has not been scheduled yet.

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