Why Casinos are the Wrong Bet for the Catskills

Catskill Mountainkeeper strongly opposes bringing casinos to the Catskills because of the pervasive and compelling environmental, social and economic problems that will accompany casino development.

We continue to work on our long-running campaign to block the construction of multiple Las Vegas-style casinos in the Catskills.  In 2008, Catskill Mountainkeeper, working with NRDC and other environmental allies, played an instrumental role in the rejection by federal officials of several so-called “off-reservation” Indian casino proposals, including one to be built directly on the banks of the famed Neversink River.  Unfortunately, the casino interests have succeeded in getting a referendum on the November 2013 ballot to legalize gambling in New York State and multiple casinos are proposed for the Catskill region.

The threat of multiple casinos along Route 17 near Monticello could not only bring a dramatic spike in traffic and pollution problems to the region, but could also forever change the unique rural character of the Western Catskills and bring serious infrastructure and social problems. We continue to vigilantly track these ever changing casino proposals and varying receptions to them at different governmental levels. We are ready to resume the active phase of our fight, including in court, against the building of numerous large-scale Catskill casinos as conditions on the ground warrant.

Environmental Problems
The threat of environmental problems from proposed casinos in especially sensitive ecological areas, such as along the Neversink River will:

  • Destroy broad swathes of thriving habitat, plant and animal life
  • Compromise water resources through deforestation, erosion, and             construction blasting
  • Increase the risk of toxic substances entering surface and groundwater
  • Exacerbate the danger of flooding – threatening homes and property.

Currently 1,000,000 visitors travel up Route 17 to visit the Catskills each year.  The combined visitors estimated for only one casino is more than 6 million!  Building more than one casino could add millions more cars to the road. This 24-hour a day influx could overwhelm our roadways, making it extremely difficult for full and part time residents to move around the area for business or pleasure. It would discourage the existing tourist base from continuing to come to enjoy our natural beauty.  Emissions from so many autos would contaminate our air and noticeably foul the quality of what we breathe.

While it is clear that these environmental dangers exist, no comprehensive environmental review has been completed to quantify the overall impact of bringing the casinos here.  In fact, during the Bush Administration, the Federal  Bureau of Indian Affairs determined that one of these mega casino projects would have no significant impact on the environment and thus no full environmental review was necessary.

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