In reversal, Cuomo wants to keep casinos out of NYC

January 14, 2013 11:30AM

In his 2013 State of the State address, Governor Andrew Cuomo withdrew his support for a New York casino he had previously championed, and is now eyeing locations north of the city, Crain’s reported. In his 2012 speech, Cuomo discussed plans to build a $4 billion convention center in Queens next to the Aqueduct racino, which seemed likely to be the first sanctioned casino in the city. But this year, he said that city casinos would thwart the state’s goal of luring city tourists to destinations upstate.

“It was kind of a 180,” said state Sen. John Bonacic, a Hudson Valley legislator who chairs his chamber’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, and was pleased by the announcement. Cuomo backed plans to build three casinos upstate in economically depressed regions, and experts say the plan will help the governor receive more concessions from upstate casino bidders who won’t be threatened by city competition. The most likely destination, lawmakers say, is the Catskills or other locations on the Metro-North or Amtrak lines. But for this to come to pass, a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize casino gambling must pass the Legislature for the second consecutive year ahead of a November statewide referendum.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was one of the biggest opponents of a New York City casino, softened his stance in August but remained firm on keeping casinos out of Manhattan, as The Real Deal previously reported. But Cuomo did not rule out a city casino in the future. He does not, however, want any of the initial three to be built in the city, though four other casinos could be established under the amendment, and could see a home in the five boroughs. [Crain’s]Hiten Samtani