Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders agreed to allow four casinos in upstate and three in the New York City region seven years later, according to terms planned to be written into a bill ready for adoption on Friday.
The legislation spells out that two would be allowed in the Catskills and one each in the Capital Region and Southern Tier, according to a person briefed by bill-drafters. The state would accept bids for casinos in the New York City region in a second phase of gambling expansion.
The measure stitched together by legislative leaders and Cuomo represented a compromise by the governor for legislation needed to implement his vision to change the state constitution to allow for seven commercial casinos.
Cuomo had wanted just three casinos in a first phase of development, but Senate Republicans pushed for more immediate growth, particularly in the economically distressed Catskills. The bill would also accommodate Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos by allowing off-track betting corporations in Suffolk and Nassau counties to install up to 1,000 video lottery machines, the first sites other than racetracks to be agents of the Division of the Lottery, according to the person briefed.
The new casinos would be required to share 39 percent of slot machine revenues with the state and 10 percent of revenues from table games. Slot machine revenues average about 70 percent of a casino’s overall take. The revenue-sharing rates compare to 25 percent shared with the state from the slot machines at Native American casinos and 65 percent of VLT revenues from racinos
The bill will not require a specific upfront fee for a casino license and it will not demand thresholds for capital investment or job creation.
Cuomo had not wanted to identify the second phase of gambling expansion but allowed for up to three downstate casinos to be part of the bill, perhaps to help win votes if the constitutional amendment goes to voters this fall as planned.
Should the amendment be defeated, VLT facilities could be authorized upstate and on Long Island at sites determined by the state Gaming Commission, the proposal says.