New York legislators passed the gambling expansion bill that would legalize seven casinos in three New York upstate regions, where Las Vegas-style casinos will not pose as competition to tribal-owned gambling venues. Although last Friday’s passing is the second of two approvals required under NY’s legislative proceeding, a referendum scheduled in November will ratify the bill as a statutory law.
The proposal is to allow the building of four new casinos initially, one in Albany and one in Southern Tier and two in the Catskills areas. Governor Cuomo will appoint the members of a gaming commission who will select the developers and the specific location of the gambling facilities, as well as determine the licensing fees based on the region’s tax scales. The building of three other casinos for downstate New York will be permitted after seven years, counting from the date the license for the first casino was issued.
Tioga Downs, a country-fair oriented racetrack in Nichols wants to build a casino in the Southern Tier, while Saratoga Racetrack intends to expand its operations in Albany by adding a casino. In the Catskills region, there are plans to revive famous hotels such as the Nevele and Concord by transforming the establishments into casino-resorts. The Mashantucket Pequot Indians, who own Foxwoods casino, have also signified their intention to build a casino in a non-Indian territory, particularly in the Catskills area.
However, should the adding of new casinos fail to garner the support of the New York constituency, some sort of gambling expansion will still take place. The bill includes a provision that will permit the operation of four new upstate gambling halls instead, in the event that the electorate votes against new casinos.