Bonacic: Seneca settlement key to resolving gaming
Release from Senator John Bonacic; three key gaming Actions expected next week
State Senator John Bonacic said the settlement reached by Governor Cuomo with the Seneca Nation would be a key component in resolving differences between his casino proposal (S.5586) and the one initially offered by Governor Cuomo. This morning, the Governor said he would now support four casinos in the initial round.
Since the Governor unveiled his initial gaming plan, he has settled land claims and gaming related disputes with the Oneida, St. Regis Mohawk, and Seneca. That means that three out of the six regions Governor Cuomo initially proposed casinos for, will not have any new casinos sited there.
“I would prefer three specifically for the Catskills, but there are no deal breakers here. I want to offer voters a transparent plan which they can vote for. More certainty and information creates less fodder by gaming opponents. The greater the transparency and detail, the better chance voters will support this. Leaving voters guessing on more locations reduces the likelihood of their support for gaming I believe. The Catskills are close to 10 million people and are a traditional resort destination. The Catskills will do well under any fair and competitive casino siting process,” Bonacic said.
Bonacic believes that Catskills casinos will generate more revenue for the state, and more jobs in the state, than gaming anyplace else north of Rockland County. That economic and tax revenue related criteria gives the Catskills an advantage.
Senator Bonacic, Chairman of both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, expects the legislature will take three key gaming related actions next week.
First, Bonacic said he expected several members of the State’s Gaming Commission would be considered by the Senate for confirmation on Wednesday. He will call a meeting of the Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee on the nominations of Barry Sample, John Crotty, John Poklemba, and Todd Snyder for the State Gaming Commission.
Second, Bonacic expects to formally introduce the proposed constitutional amendment to provide second passage of casino gaming by the state legislature, which is necessary to send the matter to New York voters this November. Lastly, the detailed enabling legislation now being negotiated is expected to be introduced early next week – this is the legislation which would set the total number of casinos and set up a licensing process.
“I am hopeful the Governor can consider authorizing five casinos upstate now. I fear if he does not, it will leave it too open ended, allowing casino nay-sayers and those who play to NIMBYism more fodder to oppose the referendum,” Bonacic said.
“If the referendum fails, generations of support for gaming in the Catskills will be dashed for no other reason, perhaps, than a failure to offer the best, most transparent plan, that provides the maximum information to voters. It is the Governor’s call. I understand that.
I am hoping he can accomplish what no other Governor has. I am hopeful he can see his way to allow five casinos upstate. I am respectfully asking his consideration of the same,” Bonacic concluded.