Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

February 8, 2013

Casino issue could be tricky

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal —

ALBANY — Whether one of them comes to Niagara Falls or not — you can bet on one thing when it comes to picking spots for new casinos in New York.

Complications.

It has become clear since Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January proposed three upstate casinos in yet-to-be identified locations that there is a patchwork of conflicting interests when it comes to gambling in New York. 

As for the Falls, Sam Hoyt, who serves under Cuomo as the head of the state-run Empire State Development Corp. in Western New York, said Wednesday it’s far too early to discuss specifics of any sort of new casino plan in the Falls. Hoyt noted that any such effort would require a key step: An amendment to the state’s constitution that would legalize gaming across New York. 

“There is no guarantee that this is going to pass,” he said, later adding, “There is no pre-determined decision on who would be the land owner or who would be the operator or where a casino would be located, etc. (in the Falls.)”

Hoyt also said residents living in the Falls would have a say on any future casino development in the community. He indicated that Cuomo’s gaming expansion plans — which the governor has previously said would involve three new casinos in “upstate” — will eventually pass through a gaming commission which will be charged with creating rules and regulations, reviewing development proposals and, ultimately, determining the preferred operators and locations for all new facilities. 

“(Cuomo) made it clear in his State of the State address that local buy-in will be part of the decision-making process,” Hoyt said. 

Across the rest of the state, not only are state lawmakers pushing back at Cuomo's proposal to let a commission dominated by his appointees take charge of siting, there are rumblings from potential competitors and questions from local officials.

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