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Casinos Off Indian Land A Big Decision To Be Made On Election Day In NYS

While Benefits On Paper Appear Plentiful, Good Gov Groups Say Not So Fast

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Casinos or no casinos – that the question.

When New Yorkers go to the polls next month they will be asked to change the constitution to legalize gambling on non-Indian land.

It’s contentious.

Good government groups say the state is trying to hoodwink voters to say yes, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported Friday.

Voters are being asked to roll the dice, pull the handle on the one-armed bandit and approve a change to the constitution that will allow development of as many as seven casinos. The first four would be upstate, including in the Catskills.  It’s called “Proposal No. 1.”

“The casinos aren’t in New York City, aren’t near New York City, but under this proposal all the tax revenue that gets split up gets split up around the state,” said Stu Loeser of New York Jobs Now.

Proponents argue that it’s aimed at growing jobs, and increasing school and property tax relief.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office says there will be:

* Close to $1 billion in construction spending

* Nearly 10,000 upstate jobs — both permanent positions and construction jobs

* More than $282 million in education and property tax relief

* $192 million in aid to local governments

And as for the question “what’s in it for me?” Loeser says potentially quite a bit.

“For New York City it’s $95 million for city schools; for the New York City suburbs, for Nassau, Suffolk. Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and Orange its $85 million and they can split that between schools and property tax relief,” he said.

But good government groups are in court trying to force Gov. Cuomo to reword the proposal. They say the way its worded now, promising benefits like jobs, lower taxes and more school aid, it’s loaded to produce a positive result, while not mentioning drawbacks to more casinos like the possibility of crime and other drawbacks, Kramer reported.

“The language that is on the ballot describing the constitutional amendment was specifically drafted to influence the result. That’s a problem. That’s not fair to the voters,” said Susan Lerner of Common Cause.

If approved, the first four casinos would be based in three areas — the capital region of Albany-Saratoga, the southern tier and the Catskills.

The location of the remaining three would be decided down the road.

And officials in our area – New York City, Long Island and Westchester would have to decide if they want to ask the Legislature to locate a gaming hall in their jurisdiction, Kramer reported.

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