06/06/2013 2:18PM

Cuomo plan would allow three new upstate New York casinos


New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed allowing three new upstate casinos and two Western New York slot-machine parlors that would pay a far lower tax rate than the existing racetrack casinos already operating in the state, according to a plan he released on Wednesday.

Cuomo, a Democrat, released the proposal as a starting point for negotiations with the legislature for a bill that would need to be passed prior to the scheduled close of the legislative session on June 20. The New York Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, has supported a separate proposal. Any bill would also need approval by voters this fall because it would amend the state’s constitution, which prohibits casino gambling.

Under the Cuomo plan, the new casinos, which would be allowed to operate table games, would pay 25 percent of their gross gaming revenues to the state. When including subsidies to the racing industry, the nine existing slots parlors at New York racetracks are taxed at an approximate 60 percent rate.

The Cuomo plan would also prohibit any new casino in New York’s five boroughs or on Long Island for five years after the first new upstate casino opened and would not allow a casino in New York after that without separate legislation, protecting the market area of a lucrative slot-machine parlor located at Aqueduct racetrack in Queens. The Aqueduct casino is the highest-grossing gambling facility on the East Coast.

The Cuomo plan would also prevent the operator of the Aqueduct casino, the global gambling giant Genting, from applying for a casino license that would allow the company to offer table games or qualify for the lower tax rate. However, it would allow existing upstate casinos to apply for the three new casino licenses, while offering the two new slot-machine licenses to new operators.