More specifics unveiled on governor’s vision for upstate casinos

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will include a large video slot machine parlor in western New York when he publicl

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will include a large video slot machine parlor in western New York when he publicly proposes three upstate, Las Vegas-style casinos, according to two people familiar with private briefings Tuesday by the administration to legislators.

A downstate video slot center on Long Island that was pushed in the Senate was discussed but may not make the final deal, they said.

Cuomo’s proposal sets a minimum $50 million licensing fee for each casino and a minimum of 25 percent of gross revenues. And gambling companies could offer more to sweeten their bid, according to the two people familiar with the closed-door discussions between the Cuomo administration and lawmakers who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because Cuomo hasn’t yet made his proposal public.

The proposal includes agreements with legislative leaders, while some negotiating is expected to continue on the details of what one of the people said was the “broad parameters of an agreement.”

There was no immediate comment from Cuomo.

The latest proposal is expected to be laid out in a bill Cuomo is projected to release for action before the end of the legislative session on June 20.

The deal would allow casinos to be approved in New York City, likely outside Manhattan, five years after the upstate casinos began operating. A huge and lucrative video slot machine center operates at Aqueduct race track in Queens.

The large video slot machine center in western New York would be run by the region’s off-track betting agency. For the first time, the video casino would be operated away from a race track, where they are called racinos.

According to the people familiar with briefing, the western New York video slot center would proceed even if a fall referendum to enact the Las Vegas-style casinos is defeated. That slot center could be dropped, however, if the Seneca Nation of Indians settles a dispute over its casino revenue with the state. Cuomo had threatened to compete with the tribe unless it was in “good standing” with the state on what he said is a debt owed to the state by the tribe’s casino.

The proposal made Tuesday reflects some changes from previously public concepts given by the Democratic governor and legislative leaders. Recently, Senate Republicans sought as many as three casinos in the historic resort areas of the Catskills under a plan that would have approved five casinos overall.

Senate Republicans have also sought one or two video slot machine casinos on Long Island with electronic table games, operated through the state lottery division. This proposal, which was discussed but appears to have not been approved, would open 2,000 video slot machines operated by the off-track betting agencies in Suffolk and Nassau counties. These video casinos are a step below the Las Vegas-type resort destinations proposed for upstate New York.

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