Niagara Gazette

Elections

November 5, 2013

Voters authorize 7 Vegas-style casinos

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Cuomo's budget office says the state would take in $430 million in new casino revenue, with $238 million for education, in a repeat of the strategy that approved lottery games. The rest would go to communities near casinos to compensate for public safety and social costs and for tax reduction.

The issue will now go to Cuomo's Gaming Commission, which will work with proposals from casino operators. They will choose locations for what are planned to be resort destinations with hotels and convention space. One would be in the Southern Tier near Binghamton, two in the Catskills and Mid-Hudson Valley region, and another in the Saratoga Springs-Albany area.

Tuesday's referendum hit New Yorkers just as public sentiment started to favor casinos after years of being split over the issue.

An October Siena College poll found the Cuomo administration's rosy rewording of the referendum — to promise jobs, tax relief and school aid — worked. The rewrite pushed support to 55 percent.

The state Board of Elections also took the unusual step of moving the referendum from last position to the top of the ballot, a more advantageous spot for constitutional questions put to voters.

An organized and well-funded campaign helped secure the vote. Cuomo had provided guarantees of exclusive gambling territory to Indian tribes that operate five casinos under federal law and other agreements to sideline operators of video slot machine centers at race tracks.

That sidelined the big money that was expected to counter supporters' TV ad blitz. One pro-casino, statewide spot financed by the NY Jobs Now Committee featured a hard-hatted everyman, with a script saying the proposal "would start to bring that money back to New York and create over 10,000 good-paying new jobs in New York state."

Critics criticized the referendum's unusually rosy, one-side view of casinos.

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