Governor Andrew Cuomo and state legislators have come to an agreement on a gaming deal that would effectively put four casinos upstate and leave Queens without one for now.
There is a seven-year hold on increasing the number of New York casinos, according to Cuomo’s office. After that, the entire state is up for grabs pending new legislation.
This leaves Resorts World Casino New York City out of the running to become a Las Vegas-style casino with full table games, as some Queens officials had hoped.
State Senator Joseph Addabbo, whose district includes the Racino and Aqueduct, said on Wednesday, June 19 that he was still reviewing the bill before it enters the Senate and Assembly for votes. His top concern, he said, was how it would affect his district.
“I’m still going through it because I need to look at the whole bill in its entirety,” he said. “My first priority is my district.”
He added that constituents might not necessarily venture upstate for gaming, but could cross the border to Connecticut or New Jersey instead.
“If they’re going to just have some entertainment, they’re basically going to stay local,” he said.
Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder also opposed Cuomo’s original plan, which barred downstate casinos. He said he is still reviewing the bill and is hopeful Resorts World could become a full casino.
“I’m still going through the bill to determine the rest of the merit, if it’s something I can vote for,” he said. “New York City is in the running in the seven years. They’re on an equal footing as everyone else in seven years.”
Along with colleagues and business leaders, Addabbo and Goldfeder argued that if the referendum passes, Resorts World could be a fully operational casino as soon as January. They said an expanded wagering facility would have led to 1,000 jobs along with stimulating the economy in the area.
Cuomo has pushed for upstate casinos, which are expected to boost tourism, since his State of the State address earlier this year. Throughout negotiations, his goal was to make sure full casinos come to upstate New York first.
“Today’s agreement with the Legislature would establish world-class destination gaming resorts to attract tourists to Upstate New York, generating economic activity for local businesses and creating thousands of good paying jobs where we need it most,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) similar to those at Resorts World will also expand in the state. Nassau and Suffolk Counties are possible sites. According to the governor’s office, the number of VLTs could increase if the November referendum cannot pass in order to make up for revenue expected from full casinos.