New Effort to Get VLT's on Ferry - Saturday 12th of March 2005

Video lottery terminals have brought big bucks to New York state since lawmakers approved the expansion of VLT gambling to racetracks.

It's possible that similar slot machines could soon be on board the fast ferry.

News 8 Now has learned State Senator Joe Robach recently reintroduced for a second time legislation that would allow video gambling on the Spirit of Ontario.

"Our goal is to make this region as competitive as possible, make that ship a go," says Robach.

Robach says the ferry VLT profits would be handed out to operators, and schools. The ferry's previous owners, Canadian American Transportation Systems, lobbied for 200 to 300 video slot machines, and estimated the terminals would bring in up to $1 million a year.

This new VLT ferry proposal is the same bill passed by the state senate last year. The measure became dead in the water when Assembly members decided not to take it up.

The State Senate is expected to easily approve the bill a second time.  As for the Assembly?

"I think there are some hurdles that can be worked out," says Robach.

Robach says city officials have asked him to continue efforts to get the bill passed, although VLT revenue is not in the city's business plan. In additon, days before the new VLT legislation was introduced March 16 in Albany, Bay Ferries, Ltd., the company hired by the city to run the ferry, said getting video slot approval was not a priority.

"We've assumed at this point there would be no lottery terminals or casinos on board," says Mark Macdonald of Bay Ferries. "hether we would consider that at one point, I wouldn't comment at this point.

Robach tells News 8 Now city officials say having the slots on board is not imperative, but it would be helpful.

We tried to contact several members of the Rochester Ferry Corporation, but they ere not available for comment.

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