Once upon a time, there was a popular slogan in the Catskills that summed up the reason why most residents living the antithesis of the American Dream in the region favored the building of casinos in the once renown resort area.
"Casinos mean jobs."
Those three words defined the dream of the building of casinos in Sullivan County.
The building of casinos in the Catskills has always been couched not as a cure-all in rebuilding our region, but instead a new beginning in resurrecting a once bustling tourist industry.
That dream not only entailed hundreds of thousands once again enjoying our natural beauty, fresh air, and various amenities in the area, but also that destination resorts would once again provide hundreds, if not thousands of jobs that in turn would rebuild a new middle class in our area.
Last week, there was an article in the New York Times entitled "Faded Vacationland, Gambling's Promise Falls Short - Poconos Casino Offers Lesson as New York Weighs Proposals in Catskills." It was a very negative hit piece that chronicled how casinos there did not live up to the promises made before they were built.
Noting the high expectations created with the prospect of great economic impact from the building of casinos in the Catskills were very similar to those raised when the Pocono facilities were proposed, the article stated: "The promises sound equally grandiose: oceans of revenue and taxes, and thousands of new jobs -- enough to give a depleted community a sharply different outlook."
One observation about the times article surmised that the article was maybe an harbinger of disappointing news about whether we get a casino in the region.
From reading this article, one would think that the only person in the entire town who is happy is some dude, a.k.a. The Goldfather, who is apparently an unlicensed pawnbroker.
The author of the article obviously does not have any understanding about how cynical we are here in the Catskills. We have endured decades of being the stepchild of New York State, high taxation, a dearth of economic development, and a brain drain of people to states to the south.
We don't really have high expectations anymore and don't take any promises of sustenance and wealth very seriously.
Now that the election is over, we are all waiting for that fateful announcement that will tell the world whether there will be a casino, or even two, at the former Concord Hotel location in Kiamesha Lake. Hundreds, if not thousands of temporary and permanent new jobs in Sullivan County, are hanging in the balance with that decision.
We have waited half a century for this decision, and will probably wait a few weeks more to find out whether or not there will be one or two casinos overlooking Kiamesha Lake in a year or two.
Those supposedly in the know are saying we are a lock for one, and it's only a matter of speculation whether a second casino gaming destination facility is built in Monticello.
As the national economy continues an alleged recovery, as the price of gas and heating fuel continues to plummet, and as the gaming industry begins to recover from a significant downturn in profitability, there is indeed great promise that Catskill casinos would help revitalize our area.
But despite the grandiose promises of casino developers, after 50 years of waiting, and of struggle, our expectations in the Catskills are not high at all. Casinos don't mean an end to our struggles, but just a new beginning to rebuilding our economy. Realistically, it's like they said years ago, casinos mean jobs.