Cuomo signs casino legislation

The fate of casinos in New York State must still be decided at the ballot box this November -- but the effort to build casinos in upstate New York took a step forward today, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a piece of legislation that will authorize four "destination gaming resorts" if a gambling referendum passes in the popular election this fall.

Dubbed the Upstate New York Gaming Development Act, the law authorizes the building of four casinos in three regions: the Hudson Valley-Catskills area, the Capital District-Saratoga area, and the Central-Southern Tier area. Two casinos may be sited in the same region. The sites will be chosen competitively based on economic impact, by members of a siting board who will be appointed by the state Gaming Commission.

The law specifies that no casinos may be located in Westchester, Rockland or Putnam counties, in New York City, or on Long Island. The law also contains a seven-year exclusivity period, during which no additional casinos beyond the four initially sited will be licensed by the state.

Regardless of the outcome of the November referendum, the Catskills is slated for a new gambling facility under the new law. If the gambling referendum fails in the November election, the law authorizes the Gaming Commission to site four video lottery gambling facilities: One each in the Catskills, Capital District, Central-Southern Tier and Nassau County. 

In a press release about the signing of the new act issued by Cuomo's office, local State Senator John Bonacic of the 42nd district, who chairs the Senate standing committee on racing, wagering and gaming, urged New Yorkers to vote to allow gambling in November:

"Casino gaming surrounds us in other States. By legalizing it in New York we can create thousands of jobs and allow for billions of dollars in investment. Gaming can substantially improve the Catskills economy. Governor Cuomo has brought is [sic] to the brink of success here. Anyone who wants more money for education and more jobs should vote for the gaming referendum this November."