Legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo may have a deal today on legalizing up to seven casinos in New York, but the plan is being complicated by the future of the state’s growing racinos—who would be threatened if new privately owned casinos are built.
Sens. Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, and Jeff Klein, D-Bronx, said they were confident that an agreement can be reached today—in time for bills to be printed and voted on Friday.
Skelos said he wants a video-lottery facility on Long Island, and he said he’s “relatively optimistic about it.”
Skelos also mentioned concerns about Western Regional Off-Track Betting, which owns Batavia Downs, and along with Finger Lakes and Buffalo, would be restricted in their marketing and games because of an gaming exclusivity agreement with the Seneca Nation of Indians.
The racinos are looking for tax parity with the private casinos. Cuomo proposed the four upstate casinos—which would be located in either the Albany area, Southern Tier or Catskills—would pay a tax rate of 25 percent. The racinos pay an average of 67 percent.
Cuomo also included a bill over the weekend that would allow him to add more video-lottery facilities if a November referendum to approve the casino deal were to fail.
Klein said he’s concerned about impacting the racinos, who have a booming business and help fund education.
“I think the VLTs that they have in place right now have done very very well in generating tax dollars for the state of New York,” Klein said. “So I don’t want to hamper their ability to do be able to that with more competition.”