Less than nine months into his administration, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (l.) is taking on the controversial issue of gaming expansion—specifically, commercial casinos—in the Empire State.
Last month, Cuomo told reporters it’s time to “come to grips” with the matter, which would require a constitutional amendment starting with approval from two successive legislatures, followed by a public referendum.
“You have gaming in this state and you have gaming in neighboring states,” Cuomo said at a press conference in Albany. “So it’s really not an issue any more of, ‘If we don’t officially sanction it as a government, it’s not going to happen.’ It is happening.
“So now you have to go to the second step. If there’s going to be gaming, how should it be done? And that’s an important question for the state.”
New York has five Indian-run casinos and eight racinos offering limited electronic gambling. The ninth racino, a $2 billion development at Aqueduct racetrack in Queens, is set to open later this year, and its developer, Genting New York, has always said it would like to build Resorts World as a full-fledged casino.
Cuomo’s comments should also be welcomed by the state’s other racinos, which have been lobbying the state legislature to let them expand their gaming options. According to the New York Times, the state could earn $684 million this year from racinos alone, and allowing full-blown casinos would substantially raise that figure. Tim Rooney Jr., president of Empire City Casino in Yonkers, said the cash-strapped state loses up to $2 billion a year in revenue “exported” from New York to places like Atlantic City and Las Vegas.
“If you had full casino gambling in New York,” Rooney told CBS-2, “we’d not only be able to keep that $2 billion in the state, but attract out-of-state dollars as well.”