ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York state voters on Tuesday authorized seven Las Vegas-style casinos to be built to boost the economy.
With 60 percent of precincts reporting, the constitutional amendment was approved Tuesday 57 percent to 43 percent.
The first casinos will all be upstate. One would be in the Southern Tier near Binghamton, two in the Catskills and Mid-Hudson Valley region, and another in the Saratoga Springs-Albany area.
A New York City casino isn’t expected to be built for at least seven years under a deal that cemented legislative support for the proposal, although some casino operators say the law could allow for a city casino sooner.
The vote is a major win for Gov. Andrew Cuomo who proposed casinos as a way to reverse the long distressed upstate economy. The first four casinos would be built upstate, although the specific sites will be chosen by casino developers.
“The passage of Proposal One is a big win for local governments, school districts, and taxpayers across New York State. This vote will keep hundreds of millions of dollars spent each year in neighboring states right here in New York, while increasing revenue for local schools, lowering property tax taxes, and bringing proper regulation to the industry,” Cuomo said in a statement.
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Supporters say casinos will recapture more than $1 billion a year now spent at casinos out of state. Boosters held news conferences statewide touting bipartisan support.
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The latest Siena-New York Times poll appeared to show the promotional efforts have paid off. After years of polls showing New Yorkers split over the notion of expanding casino gambling, the poll released a week ago found 60 percent of New York City voters support the question.
Siena polls prior to the election showed increased support for Cuomo’s casino referendum since it was re-worded by the his administration over the summer to promise more jobs, tax revenue and school aid — all benefits disputed by opponents. The rewrite drew outrage from newspaper editorial writers and other critics who likened the gambit to loading the dice for approval. Critics noted there’s no mention in the proposition of the downsides of casinos, including problem gambling and crime.
Critics including good-government groups, the state Conservative Party and the state’s Catholic bishops argued that Cuomo’s estimates of benefits are inflated and that the social cost to families and communities will be profound.
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