By Tom Precious
ALBANY -- The Assembly’s leader today said the Legislature should have more input in deciding the locations of any possible future new casinos in New York instead of leaving the determinations, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed this week, to a new state agency controlled by the governor.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said exact regions of the state do not have to be specifically identified before his house takes up a second passage resolution to amend the constitution permitting up to seven new full-blown casinos in the state.
But he made clear that he does not back Cuomo’s plan to let the decision about where casinos might be located if the public okays a referendum allowing the casino developments to be left in the hands of a new Cuomo-controlled state agency that will regulate all forms of gambling in the state.
“We want a method by which the Legislature has input into the determination as to where the casinos will be, what the timing will be on it,’’ Silver said in an interview with a couple reporters outside his Capitol office.
“I don’t think we have to identify specific regions. We have to identify the method by which we ultimately get there,’’ Silver said. The casino resolution passed last year is vague about where the casinos will go, who will decide and how much the casino companies might have to share with the state or local host communities. A separate “enabling’’ legislation to accompany the resolution’s consideration again this session is supposed to clear up some of those blanks. In his budget this week, Cuomo only proposed that the first three casinos be located somewhere upstate – he did not say where they might go or where the remaining four could go. Additionally, the casino selection determinations under Cuomo’s budget would be made by a new state Gaming Commission, whose board will be dominated by Cuomo appointees when he names them before the agency comes to life on February 1.
A major brewing fight is whether any of the casinos will be located in New York City. Silver went further today than he has in the past, identifying specific locations he could support for casino development in the city. He mentioned the Willets Point section of Queens, Aqueduct racetrack in Queens and Coney Island in Brooklyn.
“I wouldn’t rule those out,’’ Silver said of those areas.
But he said the casinos should not be located in densely populated areas, which would include all of Manhattan, as well as central areas of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. Asked if people couldn’t just easily take mass transit to the areas he now believes casinos could be located, Silver said, “Yes, but my concern is that somebody doesn’t go out on their lunch hour. You have to take a half hour trip or hour trip to get there.’’
Silver said he has heard talk of developers interested in high-end casinos in Manhattan – with high entrance fees as a way to appease lawmakers concerned about low-income people losing money in conveniently located casinos. “I don’t like the idea,’’ Silver said.
taggedAlbany | Andrew Cuomo