For Saratoga Casino and Raceway, it could be game on

Post Star

Racino expansion concept

The plan for possible expansion of the Saratoga Casino and Raceway includes adding 15,000 square feet of gaming space, a hotel, an event center and more dining options. The casino is also considering the inclusion of a parking garage. In its entirety, it is estimated to be a $40 million expansion project.

At a glance

Company name: Saratoga Casino and Raceway.

Location: Saratoga Springs.

Person interviewed: Rita Cox, senior vice president of marketing.

Details: The entertainment venue offers video lottery terminals, harness racing, dining and a nightclub.

Fiscal year 2011 take (wagers minus payouts): $140.6 million*.

Employees: 620.

Quote: “The overall feel in the community and the hospitality world for the coming year is positive.”

* According to reports filed with the New York Lottery, the racino’s fiscal year was April 2010 to March 2011. Through January 2012, the current year’s take was $128.4 million. Racino officials would not comment beyond the state’s report.

A conversation with Rita Cox, senior vice president of marketing.

Q: What’s in store for the casino and raceway in 2012?

A: We’re anticipating growth. This past year has been a strong year for us, and we anticipate continued growth for the next year.

Q: Will the number of jobs at the facility change in 2012?

A: There will be times of the year where that number is higher.

There are some seasonal employees here during the summer months, but we see the number staying the same or slightly higher.

Q: How has the number of employees changed over past few years?

A: Prior to gaming, when we opened on Jan. 28, 2004, there were approximately 200 employees at the facility. Now, eight years later, we’re at over 600.

Q: How has the economic downturn affected business in recent years?

A: It has definitely made the last few years a greater challenge. We’ve worked hard to be as efficient as possible so that we’re able to continue to provide the services and the amenities that our customers expect.

Q: Does the nature of the gaming industry, with limited options for customers in New York, isolate you from the economy or make you more vulnerable to it?

A: We offer many different options here. When the economy is good, a lot of people are looking for ways to entertain themselves, ways to escape.

While in a bad economy, we certainly feel that people are still looking for ways to get out and have fun.

Q: What would legalizing table games mean for the facility?

A: Assuming it happens, we’re assuming an expansion that would be roughly $40 million.

It would include a hotel, event center, added food and beverage and a parking garage, as well as additional gaming space for table games.

We anticipate that would mean 400 full-time, permanent jobs and about 300 union construction jobs to complete the project.

Q: To what extent is the Saratoga Casino and Raceway involved with the lobbying push for table games?

A: We are one of the existing properties that came together to form the New York Gaming Association to lobby for this amendment, so we work very closely with them on a regular basis.

Q: Any advice to job seekers interested in a position there?

A: We list our jobs with the (Saratoga County) Chamber (of Commerce), and we have them on our website, so I’d recommend people keep watching those locations because we often have many jobs open.

Right now, we have about 15 jobs open. That ranges everything from working in the kitchen to serving drinks, to working with the machines, working in the nightclub, security. There is just a vast array of jobs here.

Q: Do you anticipate any particular challenges in 2012?

A: Not necessarily.

The overall feel in the community and hospitality world for the next year is positive.