NY Casino Sites: Vote First, Decide Later?

Governor doesn't believe specific locations have to be identified before a vote.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo does not believe specific locations have to be identified before voters might get their say next year on possible sites for up to seven new casinos.

The viewpoint by the Democratic governor is certain to run into resistance from some legislators when they return to the Capitol in January; a number have already expressed strong demands that any casino expansion plan be specific about where such new gambling halls are located.

"I would like to see a competition where we have the ability and opportunity to attract the most exciting, aggressive proposals from the best operators in the world. And then we get to pick among the best options and my druthers would be a more flexible, open process to get the best applications, the best plans that we can,'' Cuomo said when asked if he wanted locations identifiedin lawbefore lawmakers consider a second vote on the constitutional amendment resolution.

The Legislature last year agreed to a vague change in a provision of the state constitution to permit up to seven new casinosfull-scale ones with slot machines and table games that currently are not allowed at the state's nine racetrack-based racinos. Lawmakers left unresolved until 2013 specifics such as where, how much in revenue sharing or franchise fee payments casino operators will be asked to pay in New York, how companies will be selected, and whether voters in areas eligible for casinos might get, as allowed in some other states, their own local referendum.

Those issues, among others, also are destined to be addressed in some fashion in a separate "enabling'' bill to accompany the required second passage by lawmakers anticipated for a vote in the first six months of 2013.

If that second passage occurs, voters statewide would then be asked to approve or reject casino expansion in November 2013.