Thursday, September 08, 2011

Joint New York Senate Committees Hear Expanded Gaming Testimony; Shinnecock Chair Appears


By Aaron Scholder
Gannett Albany Bureau
ALBANY - A coalition of the state's nine racetracks made its case Wednesday to legalize casinos in New York, saying the state should let the tracks add table games to their gambling offerings.

Native-American tribes also testified at the same state Senate hearing Wednesday on whether New York should pass a constitutional amendment to legalize privately run casinos. Full-scale casinos are currently banned except on Indian reservations.

Allowing for commercial casinos in New York has gained some traction because Gov. Andrew Cuomo signaled recently he's reviewing the idea. He reiterated that stance Wednesday in Buffalo.

"We're looking. We're researching," Cuomo said after touring a 9/11 exhibit. "They are complicated matters, and there are positives and negatives. It's not a simple issue, that's why we're taking our time and researching all available options to the state when it comes to gaming…

Randy King, trustee chairman of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, which wants to build a casino on Long Island, urged the senators to allow the tribe to open a casino. Kim Vele, president of the Stockbridge Munsee Community, which wants to build a casino in the Catskills, made a similar argument that her tribe has the legal rights to build a casino.

To change the state constitution, the Legislature would have to pass the measure in consecutive, separately elected legislative sessions. Then it would head to the voters.

So lawmakers would have to pass the bill next year and then again in 2013 - when a newly elected Legislature would be seated - in order to have it on the ballot in November 2013…

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