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ALBANY - The head of the state's Gaming Commission resigned Monday as the panel moves New York toward the opening of its first Las Vegas-style casinos.
Commission chairman Mark D. Gearan, president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, said the work took too much time away from other pursuits.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who appointed Gearan, will pick a replacement. While not publicly known, Cuomo spokesmen said Gearan had advised Cuomo months ago that he would be leaving the job.
"We are incredibly grateful to chairman Gearan for his dedicated service at the Gaming Commission," said the panel's executive director, Robert Williams. "His tenure has overseen a great deal of progress in gaming regulation and New York State is a better place because of his work . . . we wish him the best in the many other important endeavors he is undertaking."
Gearan has been the western New York college's president for more than 15 years and once was the director of the Peace Corps. He worked in the Bill Clinton White House and had been appointed to a community solutions board by President Barack Obama.
Gearan was appointed by Cuomo in March of 2014 to the seven-member commission dominated by Cuomo appointees. Five are appointed by the governor and one each is appointed by the State and Assembly majority parties. Commissioners get $300 per day for meetings, which are usually monthly.
Voters in 2013 agreed to amend the state constitution to authorize as many as four casinos off American Indian land as early as this fall and, eventually, a total of as many asseven casinos statewide. The state provided a noncompete agreement in the legislation with three tribes that already have casinos to protect their geographic markets.
Cuomo and the legislature created the Gaming Commission in 2012 to merge all gambling including casinos, horse racing and the lottery into one panel. Cuomo and the legislature portrayed the gambling expansion as an economic boost for the long depressed upstate economy, despite a slide in casinos nationwide and what some consider a glut of gambling in the area that stretches from Atlantic City, New Jersey, to Connecticut.