After months of conjecture and debate, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has finally unveiled his gaming expansion plan, which includes three Las Vegas-style casinos in upstate New York. Cuomo has envisioned a total of seven casinos statewide. To no one’s surprise, the actual plan—which excludes New York City for now?—has sparked even more debate.
“For years, neighboring states like Connecticut and New Jersey have benefited from New Yorkers leaving our state to visit their gaming facilities,” Cuomo said in a statement last month. “We want to reverse this trend by putting new resort destinations in upstate New York.”
The governor’s plan would also add two video slot parlors in the western part of the state—a barely veiled threat to the Seneca Indians, who owe the state hundreds of millions of dollars in past-due casino revenues—and prohibit Class III casinos in New York City unless the state legislature separately approves it. The latter element is a departure from Cuomo’s previous plan, which would have allowed a Big Apple casino, most likely at Resorts World racino at Aqueduct, five years after the upstate casinos had been in operation.
Cuomo has called for a minimum $50 million licensing fee and a 25 percent cut of gross revenues going to the state. He unveiled the proposal June 5 and hopes to push it through the legislature by the close of the session June 20.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says he thinks the new proposal is a go. “The governor has presented a comprehensive plan, and I believe we can reach an agreement before the end of session,” Silver said.
But Assembly Racing and Wagering Chairman Gary Pretlow is less than enthusiastic. “It’s a plan I have some issues with,” he told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “I think all seven locations, if not authorized immediately, should at least be noted. I think we’re missing out an opportunity if you limit it to one per area. I think the Catskills can handle more than one.”