This is the first mention of a gaming expansion plan since the state added Indian-operated casinos and allowed electronic slot machines at many horse racing tracks beginning shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001.
But while a constitutional amendment is considered as necessary by many of the parts involved, Gov. Cuomo said that commercial casinos might not require to wait for a lengthy amendment process to begin operating in New York, and added that the state’s constitution restricts traditional slot machines and other casino games, but allows electronic variations of traditional table games and video slot machines.
The state allows Class III casinos only on the existing Indian casinos located in upstate New York, including three owned by the Seneca Nation in western New York (Seneca Allegany Casino, Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino and Seneca Niagara Casino), the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino and the Turning Stone Casino near Syracuse, owned by the Oneida Indian Nation.
New York allows strictly limited electronic gambling at the state’s racetracks. The state’s “racinos” offer VLT’s (Video Lotery Terminals), but can’t offer table games, such as poker, blackjack and roulette. But while some New York racetrack casinos have added electronic table games in recent years, racetracks want to push a a constitutional amendment to expand their gaming offers and compete with other casinos in nearby locations, such as Pennsylvania, Atlantic City or Connecticut.
The gaming plan is already generating an oppose reaction from the state’s Indian tribes, who don’t want to see their gambling facilities face more competition.
“If the state wishes to expand gaming, it has two options for doing so. It can spend many years trying to pass new legislation through two successive terms of the legislature – something which it never has been able to accomplish – and present it for a state-wide referendum, something it never has attempted. Or, it can bring gaming to the state promptly and assuredly under already-existing laws by working closely with its in-state Indian nations to enjoy immediate revenue sharing which would benefit the entire state.” said Mark Emery, director of media relations for the Oneida Nation.