New York Daily News

New York now holds the cards in its battle with New Jersey for gambling business.

The Empire State has yet to legalize full-fledged casino gambling, but its eight racinos and other gambling operations have already eclipsed the gaming revenue of its neighbor on the other side of the Hudson River, a new report found.

Gambling interests generated $5.4 billion in New York in 2010, the most recent year for which numbers were available.

That moves the state into third place behind Nevada ($10.5 billion) and California ($9.7 billion), according to Casino City Press’ newly released North American Gaming Almanac.

“There is clearly a market for this in New York,” said Vin Narayanan, managing editor of Casino City, a Massachusetts-based research outfit. “It is a type of entertainment people want.”

New Jersey, even with the host of casinos in Atlantic City, raked in only $4.4 billion in 2010 — down from $6.4 billion the year before.

The slide dropped the Garden State to fourth place on the list.

“New Jersey is just getting killed,” Narayanan said, adding that the “busloads” of day-tripping gamblers that once flocked to Atlantic City now go to other venues closer to home in New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

“Atlantic City never marketed itself as a resort town,” he said.

New York’s 2010 gaming revenue rose from $4.7 billion in 2009. It included $1.05 billion from Native American-run casinos, $2.8 billion from the lottery and $1.08 billion from slots parlors at race tracks.

And the 2010 figures don’t even include the hugely successful Resorts World racino at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens.

The slots parlor opened in 2011 to robust earnings and will undoubtedly boost New York’s take this year, Narayanan said.

Gov. Cuomo used his State of the State address in January to call for legalizing Las Vegas-style casinos. He argued that New York is still losing nearly $1 billion a year in gaming revenue to its neighbors.

“States and Canadian provinces just across our borders have legalized casino gaming,” Cuomo said in the speech. “They get the tourism, the revenue and the good jobs that belong here.”

The Legislature took a major step toward boosting the gambling boom by approving a constitutional amendment to legalize casino gambling, but the measure must be approved again in 2013, then go to a public referendum before it can become law.

Supporters of Cuomo’s initiative said Casino City’s report bolsters the argument for legalized casino gaming.

“We think New York can accommodate advanced gaming,” said James Featherstonhaugh, president of the New York Gaming Association, which represents racino owners. “New York is already an excellent gaming destination both at the racinos and also the Native American casinos,” he said.