New York State voters approved to change to the state constitution to legalize gambling in a referendum on Tuesday's ballot, but a separate ballot amendment that would have raised the retirement age of judges failed. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
New York has finally repealed the 110-year prohibition on gambling in its state constitution.
The amendment, known as proposition 1, clears the way for seven casinos, four to be constructed in the first phase in three upstate regions. In another seven years, as part of phase two, three more casinos can be built, possibly in New York City.
"This is a huge, huge win for the state of New York," said Governor Andrew Cuomo. "It's especially a huge win for the Catskills and for the Hudson Valley."
It was also a big win for Cuomo, who strongly backed the amendment as part of his plan to help the ailing upstate economy. Final results from the referendum show that it passed by a margin of 57 percent to 43 percent.
In 90 days, the state will issue a request for proposals. A gaming commission will tightly regulate what gets built.
"Where's the economy going to come from? You have 50 million tourists coming into New York City every year internationally. Just get them to come north," Cuomo said. "Just put up a sign, out up an attraction that brings that energy and those dollars north."
A separate ballot amendment that failed to pass would have raised the mandatory retirement age of certain judges from 70 to 80. Proposition 6 went down by a vote of 61 percent to 39 percent.
"It was bad public policy because even though it was well-intentioned to raise the retirement age for judges, it would only do so for a small number of them," said Dick Dadey of Citizens Union. "It was too small a change and too selective."
Proponents of proposition 6 said that it was a backdoor way to add more judges to handle case backlog.
"The legislature on its own could add more lower court judges if it wanted to, increase the number of family court judges in the system, which is where the real backlog is and the real problems are," Dadey said. "Why the legislature hasn't done that is a good question to hold them accountable for."
There were four other referendums on the ballot, all of which passed. Two involved land preservation in the Adirondacks. Another had to do with the debt limits of municipalities, and the final one makes it easier for disabled veterans to get government civil service jobs.