Some of the state’s racinos are teaming up to oppose former Gov. David Paterson’s last-minute deal last month to provide a gaming compact to the Stockbridge-Munsee tribe to build a casino in the Catskills.
The racinos who signed the letter — the Aqueduct casino developers, Saratoga, Finger Lakes, Monticello, Yonkers and Buffalo — said the deal with Paterson would cost the state $400 million in tax revenue and up to 1,000 jobs.
The racetracks were approved to get video lottery terminals in 2001, when then-Gov. George Pataki signed a historic gaming compact that allowed for three Indian-run casinos in the Buffalo area and the Catskills. Yet none have been built in the Catskills.
But today, the racinos wrote a letter to state officials urging them to re-evaluate the deal to ensure state revenue and jobs are preserved if the Wisconsin-based tribe lands the casino, which is now before federal regulators. Three didn’t sign the letter: Batavia Downs, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs.
The racinos also asked that the Cuomo administration ask the federal Department of Interior to “stop the clock” on its statutory-mandated 45-day evaluation of the compact signed by Paterson late last year.
“We believe that this compact, signed and submitted without public input or oversight and at the very end of the Governor Paterson’s tenure, poses significant, negative budgetary impacts for New York state that should be carefully re-evaluated — particularly in this time of fiscal crises — to determine whether or not the current New York state administration should withdraw the compact and inform the DOI that it no longer supports the Compact,” the letter, penned by lobbyist James Featherstonaugh, a partner at the Saratoga facility, states.
Asked about the letter this morning, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he hadn’t seen it and could not comment, but he did say he supports developing the depressed Catskills region.
Here’s the letter: