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Lawmakers say number of casinos in NY is “evolving”

Posted By Joseph Spector On January 30, 2013 @ 1:15 pm In Other | Comments Disabled

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing that three casino resorts be built initially in upstate New York, north of Putnam County.

But legislative leaders indicated today that the number of casinos that would be built remains under discussion, and that lawmakers would have input on the general location of the resorts.

[1]Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, didn’t rule out more than three casinos in the first phase of development. A constitutional amendment to legalize private casinos would allow up to seven casinos in New York, but Cuomo said he wants to start with three upstate.

“It could be more than three, sure,” Skelos told reporters after a closed-door meeting with Cuomo.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, said the number of casinos that would be in the first phase is “still evolving.”

Cuomo has proposed that a gaming commission would be established to choose from among bidders on where the casinos would be located. But lawmakers want more input than that, and Cuomo today indicated he would be amenable to lawmakers deciding what regions, or maybe even which counties, would be in the running.

In addition to giving final approval this year to the constitutional amendment, lawmakers would also have to approve legislation to provide more specifics as to the casino plans and the locations. The constitutional amendment would have to be adopted by voters in November, and Cuomo said it would be important for the public to have a clearer sense of where the casinos would be sited going into the vote.

“What we are looking for: eligible regions, eligible counties,” Cuomo explained. “What the criteria are in that procurement, that bid, we’re not just looking for a casino. We want a resort destination. We want a regional tourism attraction. We want to create jobs. We want the approval of the local communities.”

The gaming commission would decide specifically who wins the bids and what sites are chosen for the development, Cuomo and the legislative leaders seemed to agree.

“I think we all agree the legislature’s role in setting policy is very important. This is a potential major economic boom for upstate New York. We think it’s one of the best possibilities we have,” Cuomo said. “We also agree that the actual selection of bids, specific locations, should be left to an independent, non-political body. So I think we’re in conceptual agreement on that.”


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