Governor Andrew Cuomo called out racinos – several of which the state allows to call themselves casinos – as not being the real thing.
Racinos, including the Finger Lakes Racetrack and Casino, are only allowed to have video slots. There are no table games like blackjack and poker. The racinos, which operate at racetracks, desperately want to become full casinos. Cuomo wants a constitutional amendment to allow seven non-Indian casinos. The racinos say they are perfect locations.
But Cuomo says, “Not so fast.” He is against giving racinos a leg up in the deal and said the racino arrangements have been a bad deal for taxpayers. He wants an independent commission to determine where the casinos will be located. He would cut out the legislature and he is opposed to local referendums on gambling.
The Batavia and Finger Lakes racinos within the Senecas’ exclusivity zone prompted the Senecas to withhold payments from the state. Cuomo believes the Senecas are violating their state contract and is open to putting a new non-Indian casino in their zone, which includes Rochester and Buffalo.
Cuomo acknowledges racinos are at a disadvantage if casinos are allowed to locate nearby. He said the following during a press conference with Albany reporters (first video in link, starts at 11:45):
You can’t put a casino next door, because who’s going to go to the racino if you can get the real thing at the casino? You’ll only know that a racino that is a racino that is called a casino is really a racino when it is located and standing next to an actual casino. You’ll see the difference in the C and the R…and read that quote back to me before you use it.
Meanwhile, the New York Times revealed a group with close ties to Cuomo got millions of dollars from gambling interests.
The earliest a constitutional amendment to expand gambling can go before voters is 2013.