New York Legislators Approve Seven New Casinos
Last week legislators in the state of New York approved a plan to build seven new land-based casino properties in the Empire State. The plan, which has been heavily endorsed by the state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, will be put to a vote in a November election.
New York expansion plan calls for four upstate casinos
The casino expansion bill, which will require a change to the New York state constitution, was passed by both the state’s Assembly as well as its Senate chamber.
Cuomo said that the bill was imperative so that the exact locations of the casinos could be established. Four of the properties will be in the rural upstate area of New York, which Cuomo says is intended to attract more tourism to those regions.
After seven years, three additional casinos would be built in the downstate region of the state, though it was not clear if one would be intended for New York City.
The Governor appeared on a public talk radio show called The Capitol Pressroom to discuss the casino issue, saying that the issue now is in the hands of the people of New York.
“All of those questions have to be part of an informed decision on the referendum, and this does both,” Cuomo said. “It sets up the referendum and it says if the referendum passes, this is what happens, and if the referendum fails, this is what happens.”
Cuomo makes deals with Indians to help ease expansion
Governor Cuomo has been touting his vision of a more casino-rich Empire State for some months now, though the matter has been fraught with conflict, much of it stemming from opposition from the state’s tribal gaming interests.
Earlier this month, Cuomo made a deal with the Seneca Nation that will help them maintain their grip on the Niagara Falls area casino business. The tribe had been withholding gaming revenue from the state since 2009 in protest of proposed upstate gambling expansion; as part of their agreement they will release some of the withheld funds and will immediately begin remitting scheduled payments to the state.
Cuomo has reached similar agreements with other New York tribes, specifically the Oneidas and the Mohawks. Those deals would keep new casinos from being built in the central and northern portions of the state.
Critics question need for more casinos
While Cuomo has been championing the casino expansion issue due to what he believes is its ability to bring both tourists and revenue to the upstate region, those against the plan point to the fact that the casino market in New York is currently experiencing a downturn. Thus, they question whether new casinos are a wise move.
This question has arisen in many states where casino expansion is on the table. Particularly on the east coast of the United States, new casinos are being planned at a rapid clip, causing some to wonder if there are enough gamblers to go around. For example, New Jersey has experienced a lagging gambling industry for some years in the face of competition from neighboring Pennsylvania, a state which could see its own gambling revenue decline should New York introduce additional casinos.