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Voters Get Final Say On Gambling Expansion In New York

New York lawmakers have put the finishing touches on new legislation that will allow Las Vegas-style casino gambling in the state. After the Senate approved the bill Saturday that was previously authorized in the House, the last hurdle to full fledged casino gambling will come in November when voters get their say.

The Senate approved legislation this past weekend that will allow casinos in New York with not only slots, but a full selection of table games. The bill not only expands gambling, but also ends a long-standing battle between New York and Native American Indian tribes.

If voters approve the bill, casinos would be authorized in New York. Instead of private companies operating the casinos, the Oneidas, Mohawk, and Seneca Indian tribes would have exclusive rights to three of the four zones approved in the bill.

Where, exactly, the casinos will be located, is a debate that Governor Andrew Cuomo will put off until after the public votes on the issue. Even if voters shoot down the measure, Cuomo is moving forward with new gaming facilities in the four regions.

The difference in revenue for the state is drastically different with the two models. If full scale gambling is approved, the casinos are expected to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue from the table games and slots. If not approved, the new casinos would only be home to video lottery terminals.

New York has been playing catch-up with the rest of the Northeast within the casino gambling industry. Pennsylvania has become the top gaming state in the region, with Maryland, Maine, Delaware, and Massachusetts all adding Vegas-style gaming in the past five years.

New York has long been a target of gaming companies. The state is considered to be the top tourist destination area in the world, and the ability to connect high-rolling travelers with casino gambling has been in the works for several decades. Cuomo has made it one of his legislative priorities to bring new casinos to Northern New York.

If the amendment is approved by New York voters, in addition to the new full service casinos, Long Island would also receive the rights to two video slots gaming facilities.

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