Skelos 'optimistic' that Island will be included in gambling expansion

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Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) in Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) in Albany. (April 23, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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The Legislature’s top Republican said Tuesday a proposal to allow video slots at off-track betting facilities on Long Island is very much alive as lawmakers try to finalize a casino bill at the State Capitol.

“I’m relatively optimistic,” Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said, referring to the Island being a part of New York’s plans to expand gambling. Skelos made the prediction after emerging from an hour-long meeting with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and other legislative leaders. Lawmakers said they hoped to reach a casino deal today and vote on a proposal Friday.

As he tries to expand casinos, Cuomo has changed his proposal several times in the last week. His last version included four upstate casinos and a range of video slots parlors around the state. Voters would have to approve any non-Indian-run casinos in a referendum; the governor proposed launching video slot facilities if a referendum fails this fall.

Some Island lawmakers have pushed to allow Nassau OTB and Suffolk OTB build video-slots parlors, arguing that downstate shouldn’t be shut out of any gambling expansion. Other legislators have argued to allow New York City host a casino as well.

The legislative session was slated to end Thursday. But many lawmakers now say they will be in Albany through Friday.

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