Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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January 21st, 2011

Racino must reconsider casino stand

Wherever I go people are outraged Empire Resorts has joined the fight to stop approval of the Stockbridge Munsee Casino.

It is indeed a sad day for all of us when opposition to what could be the single major catalyst to revitalize Sullivan County is coming from within.

What does Empire Resorts want? What are their real motives? Do they want Sullivan County to remain one of the most depressed parts of New York State with one of the highest rates of unemployment? Or is it all about money and greed?

It seems surreal that Empire Resorts who for years tried to open a casino with the Mohawks are now saying a casino would put them out of business. They did not say that when they were planning to build one next to the racino, nor did they say that when Louis Cappelli was going to move the racetrack to the Concord and build another racino.

If Empire Resorts is so concerned about competition, they should be working to stop the racino their majority investor is building at Aqueduct, and the new racino and racetrack planned in Syracuse. Both will likely draw customers from Monticello.

It is no secret Empire Resorts wants the state to legalize casino gaming at racinos, and that is something we should all support. Equally, we should also back video gaming at the Villa Roma.

Without a doubt, Empire Resorts employs over 300 people who are a major part of our workforce. The contribution the racino and racetrack has made to Sullivan County must never be overlooked. But, let us also understand that Empire Resorts has made a lot of people very rich, and I am not talking about their hard working underpaid workforce or horsemen.

In fact, if anyone has been mistreated over the years it has been the horsemen and those who enjoy viewing and betting on the races.

Monticello Raceway is raking in millions for management thanks to simulcasting. Unfortunately, they view the racetrack as a television studio and not as a tourist destination.

Every racetrack throughout New York State has seen their racing portion undergo major upgrades, but such has not been the case at Monticello. If anything, purses are on a decline, track conditions are getting worse, and those who attend live racing do so under dire conditions.

Some innovative measures including a financial investment might be warranted. I bet if they remodel the grandstand and racetrack, construct an entertainment complex including a multiplex movie theatre and shopping center, the racino could flourish.

Better yet, if the Stockbridge Munsees and their developers move their project to the racetrack everyone will be happy.

Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun coexist next to each other and so can a casino and a racino. In fact, workers at the casino would only be able to gamble at the racino.

Empire Resorts must reconsider their stand immediately, and come to the realization that they need the Stockbridge Munsee Casino for their survival as well. There can be no more delays or studies.

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