– In the dead of night, New York State lawmakers approved adding seven non-Indian casinos. That would bring the total number of casinos and racetracks in the state to 21.
It’s not a done deal yet. To amend the state constitution permitting these extra casinos, the legislature has to give its approval again next year. Then the measure goes up for a public vote. The earliest that can happen is November 2013.
Lawmakers did not decide where the casinos would be located. The Buffalo News reports:
“We will deal with where, when, how next year in legislation,” Silver said.
Lawmakers would have to approve a constitutional amendment this year and next year before it could go to a statewide referendum.
Cuomo has said the casinos are needed for economic development; critics have warned of boosting gambling when the state is cutting back on gambling treatment programs.
The Seneca Nation has been pressing to halt the expansion in Western New York, saying new casinos would severely eat into their exclusivity deal with the state.
“We’ll address it next year and we’ll see where we are next year with the Senecas,” a senior Cuomo administration official said.
As the scramble for casinos begins, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Rochester area figure in the debate. The Senecas have the rights in Rochester, but have not publicly said they are seriously looking at any sites. It’s no secret the Medley Centre owner would love a casino. Meanwhile, Finger Lakes Casino & Racetrack is pressing to bring table games to its “racino.”
Any number of things could happen. Now is the time to decide if we want a casino. It’s worth revisiting Richard Florida’s op-ed in the Toronto Star claiming casinos do nothing for economic development and hurt people.
– Amtrak is evicting a group of homeless people who squat near the downtown train station and wait for the “omelet train” every day.
– A columnist in the Buffalo News says teachers share some blame when students don’t show up to class because they might be failing at engaging the kids.