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Legislators want to be involved with choosing where new casinos could go

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Rochester: Legislators want to be involved with choosing where new casinos could go
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As Governor Cuomo pushes for more casinos in New York State, legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle say they want to be more involved in deciding where exactly those casinos would go. Zack Fink reports.

NEW YORK STATE -- New York State currently allows racinos, but not casinos. That means there are video slot machines at horse racing facilities like Aqueduct and resorts world in Queens, but no table games like blackjack. A proposal to end that distinction and allow full gaming casinos is currently winding through the legislature, but Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to limit those casinos to upstate locations.

"I would like to see casinos located in Upstate New York. Because Upstate New York has tremendous economic development needs," Cuomo said.

Governor Cuomo says an independent commission would select where the casinos will be located. An independent commission whose members will be appointed by the governor. Legislators would like a little more say in the process.

Cuomo said, "I am going to have nothing to do with a politically driven process. I respect the legislature. I respect their role. I also know when the legislature has gone near siting casinos and picking operators in the past. The results were very bad."

That's a reference to the bid-rigging scandal involving Aqueduct's racino. Legislative leaders are giving mixed signals about how hard they will fight for more input this time around.

"I think the Governor and the legislature are all part of the political process, so I really don't understand how that makes a distinction," Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said.

"It's not going to be a fight because I am not going to do it," Cuomo said.

Some New York City lawmakers say it would be wrong to allow gambling in New York, but not allow Resorts World to add tables.

"I am advocating and pushing for it. Genting has been a great community partner, Resorts World has been a great facility. It has found ways at every opportunity to work with the community. I look forward to giving them the tools to create more jobs," Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder said.

Legalized gambling has already passed the legislature once. It will need to do so again before going to the voters in a referendum. The earliest that could happen is November of this year.

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