Cuomo Moving Ahead With Upstate Casino Plans

Governor Andrew Cuomo says he would push for a statewide voter referendum on expanding casino gambling this fall.

Cuomo has made expanding gambling a central part of his economic plan.

Yesterday Cuomo identified six upstate regions that could compete for three casino including two areas where local Indian tribes have disputed exclusivity compacts with the state involving gambling.

Cuomo has divided upstate into six regions- Western New York, the Southern Tier, Central New York, the North Country, Capital Region, and Hudson Valley.

But the Senecas, Oneidas and Mohawks have on- going disputes with the state, and some are withholding revenue from the casino profits that was earmarked for surrounding local governments

Cuomo cited the Seneca Nation, which he said has been withholding some $500 million owed the state from its casinos because of a disagreement over expanded slot-machine gambling at racetracks like the Finger Lakes Casino and Racetrack in Farmington.  Another tribe, the St. Regis Mohawks on the New York-Canadian border, also has a contract that was not in good standing.

Cuomo says if the tribes won’t settle their differences with the state by the end of the legislative session, he may propose siting competing casinos next to the tribal ones.

Photo-Turning Stone Resort and Casino

Cuomo seemed to offer a little more leeway for the Oneida Indian Nation, which runs the popular Turning Stone resort in central New York, suggesting that the Oneidas could negotiate to acquire exclusive rights in that region, which includes big cities like Syracuse.

At a news conference, the governor gave details on who would pick the casino locations, proposing a selection commission of real estate and finance professionals. He did not say who would choose the committee, but said it would not be the state legislature.

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