Prior to consulting with legislative leaders, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he opposed expanding the slots facility at Aqueduct racetrack into a full-fledged casino and he would locate three casinos in the state’s northern district.
A majority of state senators weren’t listening, based on their plans to authorize at least five commercial casinos, but Cuomo’s plans certainly caught the attention of the Native American tribes that are operating casinos.
And their willingness to sign deals that compensate the state is turning into a financial bonanza for New York.
Thanks, Gov. Cuomo.
Last week, the tribal leaders of the St. Regis Mohawk signed an agreement that will pay the state $30 million that has been sitting in limbo and will guarantee exclusive gambling territory for the tribe’s northern New York casino.
In the future, the tribe will pay the state 25 percent of its gambling revenues. The monies will be shared with the Franklin and St. Lawrence counties.
The deal also calls for negotiations to begin between the state and northern counties over claims the Mohawk tribe has made on certain lands near the Canadian border.
A week earlier, Cuomo’s administration announced an agreement with the Oneida Nation that protects that tribe’s gambling area from competition but also brings about $50 million annually to the state’s coffers.
While Cuomo continued to ring the state’s cash registers, the state Senate came up with a bill that would expand commercial gambling by authorizing five casino licenses, three of which would be in the Catskill Mountain area, and two slots facilities on Long Island.
The bill, drafted behind closed-doors, places Las Vegas-style casinos in Tioga County, Saratoga County and Washington County, initially. Then five years later, the bill would permit casinos in either Westchester County or Queens.
All the legislative activity means nothing, however, unless the state’s voters approve a constitutional amendment during a referendum. Some have suggested that vote could be taken in November.
Ray Poirier is the longtime executive editor at GamingToday.
Contact Ray at [email protected].