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Supporters Of Casino Referendum More Organized Than Opponents

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On Tuesday, New Yorkers are being asked to consider six changes to the New York State Constitution, one of which would legalize casino gambling, and while supporters have been marshaling their resources to push for a "yes" vote on Proposition 1, opponents have been less organized. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

It's not every day that you see Liberal Democratic state Senator Liz Krueger and Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long on the same side of an issue, but there they were Thursday, united in their opposition to legalized gambling.

"The research all shows it will just be more New Yorkers who can least afford it from upstate New York spending their money in casinos," Krueger said.

Krueger and a coalition of opponents will be handing out leaflets and urging people to vote no on Proposition 1. The loosely culled together effort does not compare to the organized campaign put together by NY Jobs Now, a coalition of business and labor groups that has been running slick TV ads.

"For good-paying jobs and millions for our schools, flip to the back of the ballot and vote yes on proposal 1," one of the ads says.

However, a separate anti-gambling group, known as the Committee Against Proposition 1, quotes former Governor Mario Cuomo in a new ad.

"Casinos are a whole different breed," the ad quotes the governor as saying. "It changes communities. It doesn't generate wealth. It just redistributes it."

In a statement late Thursday, the former governor said "I made those statements in 1994. A great deal has changed in 20 years. The New York that I was dealing with was a different place. We didn't have casinos on every border."

The push for legalized gambling is spearheaded by the former governor's son and current governor, Andrew Cuomo, who is relying on legalized gaming to spur economic development upstate.

The amendment would authorize up to seven casinos, four initially in three upstate regions.

"There's already gaming in New York," said Heather Bricetti of the Business Council of New York. "We've got casinos that are run by Native Americans in the state. We have racinos. All we're doing is removing a restriction that will allow us to go forward and compete with our neighboring states."

A recent poll found that support for the casino referendum in New York City is strong, about 60 percent. That's significant because New York City accounts for roughly 40 percent of the vote statewide. Moreover, turnout is expected to be a little heavier this particular year because of the mayoral election.

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