Gov. Andrew Cuomo will not back a plan to allow upstate casinos in New York if the process becomes “politicized,” he said in a radio interview Thursday.
Cuomo, appearing on public radio’s “The Capitol Pressroom,” expanded on comments he made Wednesday after meeting with legislative leaders on legislation that would lay out a process for siting Las Vegas-style casinos, but only if a constitutional amendment is passed first.
That siting process, he said, must be devoid of politics.
“I don’t want to be involved in casinos if it’s going to be politicized,” Cuomo said. “Some places have had bad experience with casinos when it’s not properly regulated—high enforcement, high screening, high supervision. If it’s going to be a politicized process – if that’s what the Legislature wants to do, then I’m not going to recommend it to the people of the state.”
In his State of the State this month, Cuomo said he wants to allow up to three full-fledged casinos upstate—north of Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties—as part of “phase one” of his gambling plan. The state Legislature gave first passage to a constitutional amendment last year that would clear the way for up to seven non-Indian casinos statewide; it has to be passed by the current Legislature and approved in a public referendum before any casinos can be approved.
“The question is doing it right and getting the fair reward for the state and the right regulation for the state,” Cuomo said. “But it is risky in some ways and it should only be done if it is going to be done right and properly and it is independent of the political process. So if we can do it right, I would suggest it. If we can’t do it right, then I would say no.”
Under Cuomo’s plan, the state’s Gaming Commission would review bids and make recommendations for where the casinos should be built. Some lawmakers, including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, have called for more involvement from the state Legislature.