Gambling expansion continues to make progress in the Empire State as the New York Gaming Facility Location Board recommended that a bid for a new casino in the southern region be approved.
That bid was volleyed by Tioga Downs racetrack owner Jeffrey Gural, whose initial proposal was rejected last December by the same board who gave the green light to three other casino projects in upstate New York. Gural modified his bid after New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo requested that the board accept new bids for the Southern Tier specifically, the New York Times reported.
Cuomo was under pressure from residents of the Southern Tier who were miffed that they were left out of a plan for economic revival. A number of businesses such as IBM closed down in the region, swelling the numbers of those forced into the unemployment line.
Ten months ago, the board approved bids for three new casinos to be located in Finger Lakes, Schenectady and the Catskills. Prior to the announcement of the winning bidders, it was anticipated that four new casino venues would be named. The Gaming Facility Location Board surprised many when it recommended only three.
The blueprint submitted by Gural calls for Tioga Downs racetrack to get a remake. A casino, hotel, restaurants and a performance center are all part of the $195 million project. Final approval rests with the New York State Gaming Commission.
Stay Home New Yorkers
New York’s plan for land-based gambling expansion comes at a time when neighboring states are reporting declines in casino revenue. New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut have seen gaming revenue totals head south as of late, with New Jersey the hardest hit by the closure of several casinos last year.
Cuomo is intent on keeping New York gamblers in-state. Recent estimates point to as much as $1 billion per year landing in the coffers of out-of-state casinos courtesy of New Yorkers who cross the border to gamble.
Online Poker a Possibility
While New York’s land-based gambling expansion is currently a work in progress, we may see expansion involving Internet gambling in the future. More specifically, the possibility of online poker regulation, perhaps as soon as 2016.
Remember that the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee played host to an online poker hearing last month. Under consideration was a poker-only bill introduced by Sen. John Bonacic, who happens to chair the aforementioned committee.
Stop or Go?
There is a chance that online poker legislation will take a back seat until the four new casinos are doling out chips to gamblers and counting the cash that comes in. However, Bonacic has already stated his intention to make changes to S 5302, the bill he sponsored, so that more ipoker regulation discussions among lawmakers can take place next year.
Let’s hope that New York does not hold off on online poker until the new casinos are operating, as the grand openings are more than likely a couple years away.