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Cuomo plan: No video slot machines at LI OTBs

A video slot machine at the Resorts World

A video slot machine at the Resorts World Casino New York City that opened in 2011. (Oct. 28, 2011) (Credit: Resorts World Casino)

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's new gambling expansion proposal focuses on upstate New York and doesn't allow video slot machines at off-track betting parlors on Long Island.

The Democrat's proposal, unveiled Wednesday, would authorize three upstate casinos and give them a five-year exclusivity period before any downstate casinos could be built. The plan also would create new video slot machines facilities in Western New York if the state and the Seneca Nation of Indians can't resolve an ongoing revenue-sharing dispute regarding the tribe's three casinos in the region.

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. His proposal calls for a minimum $50 million licensing fee for each casino and a minimum of 25 percent of gross revenues. Gambling companies could offer more to enhance their bids.

His proposal cuts out Long Island for now -- putting him in contrast to a plan advanced by Senate Republicans recently.

The GOP plan would authorize five casinos upstate and up to two new OTB facilities on the Island to host video slot machines, also known as “video lottery terminals.” Backers have maintained that Long Island should be able to share in expanded gambling if new casinos are limited, at first, to upstate.

"We will review the governor's bill and expect that it will part of discussions on casino-related legislation between now and the end of session," said Scott Reif, spokesman for Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre).

Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore), a backer of video slots, said he's "disappointed but not deterred" by the Island's omission in Cuomo's plan. He said lawmakers would continue to push the GOP as negotiations wind down.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) didn't immediately comment. The office of Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, who also favors video slots at OTBs, declined comment.

Cuomo and lawmakers have a short window to take up casino legislation. With two weeks to go in legislative session, they are expected to take at least two major actions.

First, the Legislature is expected to vote on a proposed, generically worded constitutional amendment to authorize up to seven non-Indian-run casinos in New York. Even though seven facilities would be authorized, Cuomo wants to initially sanction just three upstate and put a five-year moratorium on downstate casinos. His plan would prohibit a casino in New York City.

Second, lawmakers will vote on "enabling legislation" to designate what upstate regions might host casinos.

New York voters would have to approve the constitutional amendment in a referendum this fall before any casinos could go forward.

Tags: Andrew Cuomo , casinos

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