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Cuomo’s upstate casino proposal

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Cuomo’s upstate casino proposal
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Following Governor Cuomo's State of the State Address this week, a lot of people have been talking about his proposal to build three casinos in Upstate New York. He hopes those casinos would become a destination spot to bring New York City residents and their money north. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman has more.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- As state lawmakers this year consider the second passage of a constitutional amendment to expand casino gambling, Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to put the first three of up to seven in Upstate New York. But where those casinos ultimately go could be a major political battle.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “Let the market and let the experts tell us where the optimum location is to site a casino to maximize revenue. I'm not in the casino business.”

Cuomo outlined his latest plan for expanding casino gambling in New York in his third State of the State Address on Wednesday. The plan includes an expansive marketing campaign for the upstate region, as well as bringing three casinos. Cuomo calls this plan phase one, which won't include any casinos in New York City.

“Frankly the casino operators would be less interested in citing them in Upstate New York because if there was a casino in New York City, they would believe that was the primary casino in New York State,” Cuomo said.

The upstate casino plan comes after Cuomo in last year's State of the State pushed for a convention center at Aqueduct in Queens that could have included a casino, but that plan ultimately failed. And placing the casinos outside of the city makes it an easier measure for powerful Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to accept.

“I'm all for destination casinos. Casinos in places where it's not densely populated,” Silver said.

It remains unclear how much money three casinos will bring to the economy. The plan calls for a gaming commission to determine where the casinos are ultimately placed and their building would be contingent on community support. Ninety percent of revenues would go to education and 10 percent contributed to reduce local property taxes.

“A casino element is something interesting. He's right. A lot of the casinos that operate are already casino like operators I just want to look at the mechanics of how its determined,” said State Senator Joe Griffo.

Reviving the upstate economy has long been a struggle for both New York and governors dating back decades. But just where upstate begins and downstate ends is a long time debate for New Yorkers and it's one state lawmakers will have to have this year.

“We have not for purposes of the statute, we have not defined upstate New York. But the point is not the New York City metropolitan area,” Cuomo said.

Lawmakers last year took the first step in passing a constitutional amendment to provide for up to seven casinos. If approved again by the Legislature in 2013, a referendum could go to voters by the fall.

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