Democrat & Chronicle

Allowing four casinos in upstate New York would generate $430 million in annual revenue for the state, according to an estimate Wednesday from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget office.

The estimate marks the first time the Cuomo administration has put a dollar amount on the impact of the Upstate New York Gaming and Economic Development Act, which would allow a total of four casinos to be sited in the Catskills, Southern Tier and the Capital Region along with 2,000 video lottery terminals on Long Island.

The casinos, however, are contingent on whether voters approve a change to the state Constitution in November. Cuomo was a major supporter of the casino bill, which he says would help bring downstate tourists further upstate.

“The Act would result in new revenue for all regions of the State,” Cuomo’s budget division wrote in its estimate.

If the constitutional change is approved, the casino-siting law would require an up-front franchise fee from private casino developers, as well as a state cut of slot revenue.

Of that, 80 percent would be allocated education aid or property-tax relief and 10 percent would go to the counties and municipalities that host the casinos. The remaining 10 percent would be slated for nearby counties.

The ballot referendum was the subject of a lawsuit Tuesday, which challenges whether its rosy language touting the potential for education aid and property-tax relief should be put to voters.

Earlier this week, a group of union leaders and business groups joined together to form New York Jobs Now, a coalition supporting the referendum. The group is expected to fund an advertising push ahead of the Nov. 5 vote