Upstate casino bill could stop plan for full gaming at Resorts World


| tcullen@queenscourier.com |

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It could be no dice for full gaming at Resorts World Casino New York City if a new bill in Albany goes through.

A full gaming bill would allow games such as blackjack, roulette and poker to be legal in New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan, the Upstate NY Gaming Economic Development Act, calls for three upstate casinos if the referendum is passed by voters in November. A downstate casino — anything south of Putnam and Rockland Counties — would have to wait until the first upstate one has opened five years from now.

Queens legislators have said if New York City is left out, it would kill 1,000 expected jobs and an economic boost for south Queens.

Cuomo first introduced the idea during his State of the State address this January. It was part of a push for more upstate tourism.

The legislature has until June 20 to negotiate and pass the bill through both the Senate and Assembly before ending for the summer.

Cuomo emphasized his priorities on WNYC’s “Capitol Pressroom” on Tuesday, June 11.

“That’s about the upstate economy,” he said. “We’re trying to keep the emphasis on upstate.”

Queens legislators and business leaders held a press conference on May 28 calling for a “fair share” in the gaming bill.

They argued that Resorts World could expand by January 2014 if voters approve gaming this November.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder, whose district includes the Racino, said the area needs jobs and further economic activity in the wake of Sandy. He contends that expanding gaming at Resorts World would give the needed push.

“I think that [the bill]’s a good starting point, but I don’t see how I can support a bill that doesn’t recognize the need for job creation in southern Queens and Rockaway,” he said. “Since Sandy, Queens is even more in need of the economic boost that the casino will provide. I’m hopeful the governor will recognize that as well.”

State Senator John Bonacic, chair of the Senate’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, has been supportive of Resorts World becoming a full casino if the bill is passed. He called for the governor to change the gaming plan to include Queens and put the kibosh on any ideas for a casino in Nassau County.

Bonacic has proposed a bill that would establish upstate casinos before granting two casinos to Queens or Westchester County between 2019 and 2021.

“Long Islanders and New York City residents are open to gaming in Queens, as the success of the Aqueduct VLT [Video Lottery Terminal] casino has shown,” Bonacic said.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo said he could not support Cuomo’s bill in its current form. If Cuomo’s bill passes both chambers, Addabbo said voters might not support a plan that leaves the city out.

“The people vote no,” he said, “This whole thing comes down like a house of cards.”

 

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