New York Gambling Goes to Popular Vote

The New York State Senate and Assembly agreed on Friday that residents of the state will decide on gambling expansion after voting on a constitutional amendment.  The vote will go to the people in November this year, and if it passes, four new casinos will be constructed around the state, with locations chosen by a newly formed Gaming Facility Location Board.

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Las Vegas style resort casinos could essentially spring up  in upstate regions such as the Catskills-Hudson Valley region, the Southern Tier near Binghamton and the Albany-Saratoga Springs corridor.

An approved gambling expansion won’t include the New York City region for a period of 7 years at least so that the upstate region has a chance to establish a stronghold in the market.

While there are several obstacles in the process, including the most obvious that the residents of the state have to give the green light to allow casinos on non-tribal land, the general mood among terrestrial casino operators was good following the Friday decision.

The President and Chief Executive Officer of  Foxwoods Resort Casino, Scott Butera said: “We’re very encouraged. We’ve always said we wanted more than one casino in the Catskills area. I think this opens the door for that.”

There are several proposals in the pipeline to revive old Catskills hotel sites as new gambling resorts, including a $300 million resort next to the former Grossinger’s Hotel.

The New York gambling expansion plan was introduced to save some of the gambling dollars which leave the state to casinos in Atlantic City, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

Existing gambling locations in New York such as the Saratoga Casino and Raceway said that they would bid for license in the new market.

Current statistics put 49% of state residents in favor of the expansion of gambling in their state, compared to 40% against.

It was also reported that since the Governor of New York first introduced the idea of gambling expansion two years ago, pro-casino lobbyists have spent $20 million on campaign contributions and lobbying.


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