Casino issue aside, bill would expand NY gambling

ALBANY -- New York's casino expansion bill being negotiated behind closed doors included a new provision Saturday that would expand gambling even if voters reject the proposal to build more casinos.

A copy of the revised bill obtained Saturday by the AP includes a provision that would authorize video slot machine centers in New York City's outer boroughs and as many as three or four places upstate.

The bill provides for the video slot casinos with up to 5,000 machines at each center. The bill hasn't yet been released; it is being negotiated by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders.

"We're not going to comment on ongoing negotiations," said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi when told of the new provision.

The bill is expected to authorize four major upstate resort casinos. It is expected to see more revisions before it is released publicly as early as Monday. It could be voted on in the coming week, before the 2013 legislative session is scheduled to end.

The measure states the provision for more video slots centers "shall only be effective in the event an amendment to the constitution to authorize casino gambling is defeated."

A referendum is expected to be on ballots in November.

The measure also serves as incentive for the New York Gaming Association to support Cuomo's casino bill, or at least not to fight it. NYGA represents racetracks with racinos, the name for casinos that offer video slot machines and video table games.

The new provision would open competition for more video slots centers to gambling operators beyond the racetrack operators.

NYGA had told the AP recently that it opposes Cuomo's casino proposal because it wouldn't provide a fair chance for racetrack racino operators to compete for a Las Vegas-type casino.

Cuomo has proposed authorizing three to four Las Vegas-type resort casinos upstate to boost the long-distressed economy. Five years later, more could be authorized in places including the New York City area, outside Manhattan. The referendum would authorize a total of seven Las Vegas-type casinos.

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