News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics.
A key senator said Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s offer to authorize four casinos upstate instead of three was an “overture” to settle the issue with the state Legislature, but still doesn’t provide enough transparency for the public.
The governor has proposed authorizing non-Indian-run casinos in the state, which would have to be approved in a statewide referendum. A week ago, he introduced a separate bill that would establish three upstate casinos and giving them a five-year exclusivity period before entertaining any proposals for downstate. He wants casino developers to compete for sites.
Senate Republicans, in contrast, have proposed approving five casinos (including three in the Catskills) and allowing video slots at off-track betting centers on Long Island.
This week, while huddling with legislative leaders, Cuomo pitched the idea of four upstate casinos, several lawmakers said.
“It was an overture, saying I’m compromising,” Sen. John Bonacic (R-Mount Hope), chairman of the Senate Racing and Wagering Committee.
But the governor still hasn’t designated specific regions to host casinos, which Bonacic says will create doubt about the referendum, which is expected this November.
“You need transparency for the voters to pass the referendum and you need it for the heavy investors who might want to come in to New York,” Bonacic said Wednesday.
The governor’s proposal would also permit video slot machine parlors in Western New York if the state can’t resolve an ongoing conflict with the Seneca Nation regarding the tribe’s three casinos in the region.