New York to get 7 Vegas-style casinos after amendment passes

OTB and Delaware North are working to finalize OTB and Delaware North are working to finalize site selection and undertake construction for what OTB officials concede now is an unlikely September casino opening. This slot machine was getting a workout on July 27, 2012, at Resort World Casino in Jamaica, Queens. Photo Credit: Nancy Borowick

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New Yorkers Tuesday approved a referendum that asked them to approve a massive expansion of casino gaming, according to The Associated Press.

Proponents say the Las Vegas-style casinos will create thousands of jobs and raise hundreds of millions in revenue.

The measure asked residents to amend the state constitution to allow up to seven non-Indian-run casinos. It will be the largest one-time expansion of casinos ever in the state, which Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo says could raise $430 million a year.

The first phase of development would limit casinos to four upstate sites for the first seven years. Afterward, downstate sites could be proposed. The Catskills, the Capital District and the Southern Tier would get first crack.

The casino referendum is one of six on the statewide ballot. Voters approved three of the others, according to the AP. Only one, which would raise the mandatory retirement age for some judges, failed, the AP projected.

No matter the fate of the casino vote, Nassau and Suffolk can each open one video-slot facility. Each would have a maximum of 1,000 machines, which are known as video lottery terminals.

About two-thirds of the voters in Nassau and Suffolk approved of the new casinos, according to their county Boards of Elections.

Voters, when asked a generic question, backed the new casinos by 49 percent to 45 percent in an October Quinnipiac poll. Support rose to 56 percent to 40 percent when the ballot wording -- promising to increase jobs, lower taxes and help school finances -- was read to respondents.

Critics, however, say it fails to cite problems associated with gambling, including business lost by local merchants and other entertainment venues. Opponents also say the rising numbers of casinos are cannibalizing each others' customers and they decry a business making money off gambling addicts and people who can ill-afford to lose wages.

The only referendum to to fail was whether to increase the mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 80.

The other referendums that passed were:

A proposal for NYCO Minerals to give 1,500 acres it owns in Lewis, Essex County, in the Adirondack Park, to the state for the right to expand its wollastonite mine by 200 acres, according to AP projections.

To extend for another 10 years an amendment that allows municipalities to exclude costs to finance sewer systems from their constitutional debt limits. AP said it was approved.

To give disabled veterans additional civil service credit after they have been appointed to a civil service position. This measure was approved, AP said.

Voters were favoring a sixth measure -- to put to rest a century-old dispute over public and private land titles in Long Lake in the heart of Adirondack Park -- but results were not final. Landowners in an area known as Township 40 would provide funding for the state to acquire areas along the Marion River in exchange for clear land titles. Early returns showed this likely to be approved.

Residents in Suffolk County saw two local propositions:

Voters approved a countywide Proposition 7, which would allow the county to transfer development rights it owns to municipal fire districts, ambulance districts, police districts and library districts so they can expand without having to purchase additional development rights. Currently, Suffolk County is only able to use the thousands of development rights it acquired through its Drinking Water Protection Program for workforce housing.

In Southampton Town, voters rejected a ballot question asking whether to allow an East Quogue homeowner to keep a portion of a pool, deck, patio and stairs erroneously built in 2004 on land that was supposed to be preserved. In exchange, the homeowner would have donated a slightly larger amount of land for preservation.

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