Cuomo unveils casino siting plan

By THOMAS ADAMS - 5/9/2013 3:52:15 PM

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan for siting casinos would put the Rochester area in the Western New York region, with six Upstate New York regions competing for three gaming facilities.

The plan, unveiled Thursday, calls for three resorts to be bid out among the six regions, with bids evaluated based on jobs created, money invested, projected revenues, franchise fees, local support and the vision for development and integration with the state’s regional tourism plan.

Each region is eligible for one casino.

“Our state has a unique opportunity to revitalize the local economies of communities in Upstate New York and create thousands of new jobs where they are needed most,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“For years, neighboring states like Connecticut and New Jersey have benefited from New Yorkers leaving our state to visit their gaming facilities,” Cuomo said. “We want to reverse this trend by putting new resort destinations in Upstate New York, a strategy that will attract more tourists and visitors to come and shop at our local businesses, visit regional attractions and help create new jobs in our communities.”

The state would get 80 percent of the casino revenues, Cuomo’s plan stipulates. Each county in the region where a resort is located would get 10 percent, and the host community would get 10 percent.

The revenue would be used for state education aid above the annual formula, property tax relief and reimbursement for local costs, the plan stipulates.

Casinos would be sited by an independent, non-political panel made up of real estate and finance experts, Cuomo said.

The Western New York region extends east to Sodus, splitting Wayne County. It includes Yates County and the eastern half of Schuyler County and a third of Chemung County.

Western New York is one of three regions with Indian gaming and exclusivity zones. The exclusivity agreements would be honored by the state during the siting process if the compact between state and the Indian nation is in good standing.

The Seneca Nation of Indians operates casinos in Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca, with exclusivity rights that include Rochester and Ontario County. The Senecas have been withholding casino revenue payments to local municipalities because of perceived violations of the exclusivity agreement.

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