Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders announce casino deal

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders say they have a deal to authorize four upstate New York casinos that would drive jobs and tourism to the long economically distressed area.

The agreement will allow four Las Vegas-style resort casinos upstate: In the Southern Tier near Binghamton, the Hudson Valley-Catskills area, the Albany area and a fourth possibly planned for the Catskills. One region may get two casinos.

The deal also authorizes two video slot centers of 1,000 machines each on Long Island run by the off-track betting agencies of Suffolk and Nassau counties.

Voters will have the final say this fall on a referendum that would open the way for up to seven non-Indian casinos statewide over several years.

More deals are expected to be announced Wednesday.

The legislation includes these key details:

Locations of Destination Gaming Resorts:

- The legislation authorizes four upstate destination gaming resorts to enhance tourism development.

- No destination gaming resorts can be authorized in Westchester, Rockland, New York City, or Long Island. There will be a 7-year exclusivity period during which no further destination gaming resorts will be licensed by the State.

Regulation and Selection:

- The State Gaming Commission will oversee regulation of destination gaming resorts.

- The Gaming Commission will appoint a siting board of individuals with expertise in finance and development.

- The board will be required to evaluate destination gaming resort applications based on specific criteria: economic activity and business development factors; local impact; and workforce factors.

- The Gaming Commission is authorized to investigate the suitability of the gaming license applicant

- Destination gaming resorts and all related service industries will be strictly and comprehensively regulated by the Gaming Commission. The minimum gambling age in destination gaming resorts will be 21, and no smoking will be authorized.

All Localities Benefiting from Education Aid Increases:

- 10% of the Stateâ??s tax revenues will be split equally between the host municipality and the host county. 10% of the Stateâ??s tax revenues will go to other counties in the region of the destination gaming resort to provide tax relief or educational assistance. 80% of the Stateâ??s tax revenues will be used statewide for elementary and secondary education or property tax relief. The educational aid will be additive and will not be part of the Stateâ??s existing education formulae.

- If the gaming referendum passes, 10% of the net gaming revenue retained by the State from Indian gaming facilities will be distributed to counties in each respective exclusivity zone that do not otherwise receive a share of exclusivity revenues.

Addressing Problem Gambling and Cheating:

- Funds for problem gambling will be added through the imposition of a $500 annual fee on all slot machines and table games. Destination gaming resorts will be required to develop comprehensive problem gambling programs.

- New categories of gaming specific crime legislation are added to prevent cheating at destination gaming resorts. Cyber sweepstakes cafes are specifically made criminal.

Preventing Corruption:

- A state gaming inspector generalâ??s position is authorized to prevent corruption at the Gaming Commission.

Agreements with Indian Gaming:

- The exclusivity of Indian gaming zones is affirmed.

Video Lottery Terminals:

- The legislation authorizes Nassau and Suffolk OTB to establish one video lottery gaming facility each at an OTB site with a maximum of 1,000 machines at each site.

- In the event that the gaming referendum does not pass, the Gaming Commission is authorized to competitively site up to four video lottery gaming facilities, one per region, in the Capital District, Eastern Southern Tier, Catskills, and Nassau County, based on revenue generation and economic development criteria. Additional video lottery gaming facilities in New York will secure new funding for educational assistance.

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