Gambling plan includes LI

There are more 4,000 video lottery terminals spread

There are more 4,000 video lottery terminals spread out across the two floors of the Resort World Casino in Jamaica, Queens. (July 27, 2012) (Credit: Nancy Borowick)

ALBANY -- Long Island would get video slot machine parlors with up to 2,000 terminals under a gambling-expansion deal being nailed down at the state Capitol, a Senate official confirmed late Tuesday.

The gambling plan would also include four upstate casinos, Senate and Cuomo administration officials said. Long Island likely would get two video slot facilities, each with a maximum of 1,000 machines.

Off-track betting corporations in Nassau and Suffolk would operate the video slot machine centers, the official said.

Voters would have to approve any expansion of non-Indian-run casinos in the state.

There's also a deal for Cuomo's tax-free zones to attract businesses tied to universities, a Cuomo administration official said. The tax-free proposal, originally centered upstate, would include New York City and the Island.

Additionally, lawmakers would allow votes on separate pieces of Cuomo's women's rights package, the official said. The package had been blocked in the State Senate because it contains a controversial proposal to strengthen abortion rights. The agreements were expected to be announced Wednesday.

With time running down in the state legislative session, Cuomo had proposed authorizing four upstate casinos and giving them a five-year exclusivity period before any other casinos could be built in the state.

Some Island lawmakers had been looking for permission to allow off-track betting corporations on the Island to offer video slot machines, known as video lottery terminals. Island lawmakers had argued that downstate should get a share of new gambling revenue. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn for the year this week.

Cuomo has changed his siting proposal several times in the past week. His last version included four upstate casinos and a range of video slot parlors around the state.

The governor dubbed his plan the Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act, saying his goal is to create "destination resorts" to boost tourism and jobs there. He has called for a minimum $50 million licensing fee for each casino and a minimum of 25 percent of gross revenue. Gambling companies could offer more to enhance their bids.

But some lawmakers have called for a wider expansion, saying voters will reject the constitutional amendment if too few areas benefit. And with most of the major elections this year centered downstate -- for New York City mayor, and Nassau and Westchester county executives -- some believe residents there would vote "no" on casinos unless they see some local benefit.

Some Island lawmakers have pushed to allow Nassau OTB and Suffolk OTB to build video slot parlors. Other legislators have argued to allow New York City host a casino as well.

Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) had introduced a separate bill to allow Nassau and Suffolk to host video slots.

Both Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone have lobbied for video slots, saying added revenue would help shore up county finances.

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