Governor Cuomo met behind closed doors with legislative leaders to talk about the expansion of casino gambling. Our Nick Reisman has the latest on the back and forth between Cuomo and the legislature over where new casinos should be placed.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- As state officials debate the expansion of gambling in New York, powerful Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is pushing for the legislature to have a role in where casinos are ultimately built. But on Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed back. Cuomo says lawmakers can shape the policy of gambling in the state, but final approval is up to a gaming commission composed of members he appoints.
Cuomo said, “We also all agree that the actual selection of bids, specific locations, should be left to an independent, non-political body, so I think we're in conceptual agreement on that.”
The announcement came after Cuomo met with the three legislative leaders in the Senate and Assembly for the first time this year. The fight over gambling will come to a head in Albany this year as lawmakers consider second passage of an amendment to the state's constitution that expands casino gambling beyond American Indian tribes. Silver this week said he wants lawmakers to play a role in where the casinos are ultimately built.
“I think the governor, the legislature are all part of the political process, so I don't understand how that makes a distinction” Silver said.
But Cuomo wants to keep the politics out of the selection process. His proposed bill for casinos would allow for up to three in the upstate region north of Westchester County, with the final selection made by his gaming commission. All the casinos would be built in areas that respect exclusivity rights with Indian tribes.
“We're not just looking for a casino, we're looking for a regional resort destination,” Cuomo said. “We want a regional tourism attraction, we want to create jobs, we want the approval of the local communities, so all of that would be a part of it.”
Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos says he's fine with allowing the decision to left up to a commission, not lawmakers.
Skelos said, “I know, personally, for myself, do not want to deal with vendors, let the gaming commission do it. They can select what's in the best interest of the taxpayers.”
But Skelos also didn't rule out the possibility of the casino measure allowing for more than three, including one near Belmont Racetrack on Long Island.