ALBANY, NY -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislators agreed to ask voters in the fall to amend the State Constitution to authorize the expansion of casino gambling in New York state.
Cuomo's casino bill, announced Wednesday, will ask constituents to allow up to seven casinos in the state. However, the governor and legislators agreed to limit licenses to only four casinos over the next seven years. They would be located in the Catskills, the Albany area and the Southern Tier region along the border with Pennsylvania. Later, a second round of casino licensing would permit another three casinos in locations to be determined. For now, the legislation would remove New York City and surrounding suburbs as casino sites.
New York already has five upstate Indian casinos, nine "racinos," which are racetracks offering electronic gaming, a lottery and horse betting (in person, by phone or on computer). The new casinos would not be near the tribal casinos. If approved, the constitutional amendment would make New York the most populous state in the nation with full-scale Las Vegas-style casinos featuring table games like craps and roulette.
The bill would also authorize 2,000 new video lottery terminals at two off-track-betting locations (1,000 each) in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, a proposal backed by state Sen. Dean G. Skelos, a Republican from Long Island. The VLTs can be authorized by the Legislature without voter approval. This part of the bill, observers said, is meant to appease Long Island lawmakers. The proposal does not create a VLT provision for independent operators.
The bill, called the Upstate NY Gaming Economic Development Act
, is expected to pass today. Voters will have the final say in November.
See Casino Referendum Planned by New York Leaders at The New York Times.