By Tony Aiello

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With former governor Andrew Cuomo out of the game, supporters are hoping for better luck getting Vegas-style casino gambling in Queens and Yonkers.

They’re going all in on pushing Gov. Kathy Hochul to issue gaming licenses, promising a jackpot of jobs.

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MGM Empire City went from just a harness racing track to a “racino” with video gambling.

Now, it wants to replace the animated dealers with live ones and full Vegas-style gaming.

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“We really believe that this is an opportunity to bring economic development to this area,” said Dwayne Norris, CEO of Soulful Synergy.

Norris is a workforce development expert and a member of a Bronx-Westchester coalition pushing Hochul to grant two licenses for downstate casinos.

The expectation is they would go to MGM for Yonkers and Resorts World for its video casino in Queens.

Advocates see an opening with the downfall of Cuomo.

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“For whatever reason, he was always opposed to this, like he fought me tooth and nail on sports betting,” Assembly Gaming Chair Gary Pretlow said.

Pretlow says the time is now to create thousands of post-pandemic union jobs related to casino operations and construction.

MGM says as soon as it gets a full gaming license, it’s ready to spend $400 million on improvements with a fancy new sports betting facility trackside and a brand new parking garage with direct access to the casino.

“This will [eventually] bring a hotel, a conference center, a concert hall,” Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard said.

“We know that this will bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues and thousands of jobs to this region,” Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said.

Hochul’s office referred CBS2 to the state gaming commission, which says it doesn’t currently have the legal authority to license downstate casinos before late 2023.

“What we’re proposing is totally legal,” Pretlow said.

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Pretlow says he’s working on legislation to speed up licensing, betting the governor will get in the game.

Tony Aiello