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Cuomo Wants To Limit Casinos To Upstate New York

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With efforts underway to legalize gambling in New York State, lawmakers are facing a potential showdown with the governor over the plan. Governor Andrew Cuomo wants casinos limited to upstate New York, while the legislature is pushing for more of a say in selecting where to build them. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

New York State currently allows racinos, but not casinos. That means there are video slot machines at horse racing facilities like Aqueduct and Resorts World in Queens, but no table games like blackjack.

A proposal to end that distinction and allow full gaming casinos is currently winding through the legislature, but Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to limit those casinos to upstate locations.

"I would like to see casinos located in upstate New York, because upstate New York has tremendous economic development needs," Cuomo said.

Cuomo said an independent commission would select where the casinos will be located, an independent commission whose members will be appointed by the governor. Legislators would like a little more say in the process.

"I am going to have nothing to do with a politically driven process," Cuomo said. "I respect the legislature. I respect their role. I also know that when the legislature has gone near siting casinos and picking operators in the past, the results were very bad."

That's a reference to the bid-rigging scandal involving Aqueduct's racino. Legislative leaders are giving mixed signals about how hard they will fight for more input this time around.

"I think the governor and the legislature are all part of the political process, so I really don't understand how that makes a distinction," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

"It's not going to be a fight because I'm not going to do it," Cuomo said.

Some New York City lawmakers said it would be wrong to allow gambling in New York but not allow Resorts World to add tables.

"I'm advocating and pushing for it," said Queens Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. "Genting has been a great community partner. Resorts World has been a great facility, and has found ways at every opportunity to work with the community. I look forward to giving them the tools to create more jobs."

Legalized gambling has already passed the legislature once. It will need to do so again before going to the voters in a referendum. The earliest that could happen is November of this year.

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