Bonacic Wants Legislative Control Over The State’s Casino Locations


Senate Racing Committee Chairman John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, Orange County, said he’s drafting legislation that would give the state Legislature control to decide the areas of the state where seven proposed casinos would be located.

Bonacic said the legislation would be paired with a constitutional amendment that would authorize the state to legalize up to seven private casinos in New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing to have a gaming commission come up with locations for three upstate casinos as phase one of an ultimate plan to have seven casinos.

Bonacic said the Legislature should decide upfront what parts of the state the seven casinos should be located. He said lawmakers wouldn’t, at least initially, decide specific sites, but they would sign off on at least the regions or counties where the casinos would be based.

“This governor has brought us close to having this happen, but the control is with us in naming the regions,” Bonacic told Gannett’s Albany Bureau yesterday. “And once the regions are named, we’ll turn it over to the gaming commission and there’s time for people to compete” for the licenses.

Bonacic said he would ideally like to see three casinos in the Catskills and one at the Aqueduct racino, which produced record revenues last month.The Catskills in 2001 was authorized to have three Indian casinos, but has never been built.

Bonacic said the Legislature deciding the locations would also aid the public when they will be asked to approve the constitutional amendment in November.

“The voters have to know where these casinos could go, so they come out and vote,” Bonacic said.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, also indicated this week that the Legislature should have more input on the process.

“We want a method by which the Legislature has input into the determinations as to where the casinos will be, what the timing will be on it,” Silver said yesterday. “I don’t think we necessarily need to identify the locations in the budget.”

In his budget proposal Tuesday, Cuomo proposed that the three casinos would be located north of Putnam County outside the New York City area. The gaming commission, Cuomo proposed, would present its initial findings by May 15 on the scope of the casino plan.


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