NYS looks to cash in on casinos

By Perry Russom

October 29, 2013 Updated Oct 29, 2013 at 9:08 PM EST

(WBNG Binghamton) The flashing lights and winning bells of a Vegas-like casino could be headed to our area.

A "yes" vote on Proposition One would do that by creating up to seven casinos in New York.

Phase one of the plan would create up to four casinos.

"We're trying not to authorize too many casinos," said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D). "We want to keep them competitive but also put them in destination areas "

The phase one destinations are the Capital Region, Catskills and in the Southern Tier.

The closest thing the Southern Tier has to a casino is Tioga Downs in Nichols, but that's a racino. They have a race track and automated gambling, but no table games.

The state said this proposition could allow up to two Vegas-like casinos to be built in the Southern Tier that would boost tourism, add jobs and provide tax relief.

It's estimated the casinos would rake in roughly $20 million every year just for the eastern Southern Tier, but the proposition isn't on the ballot without push back.

"I think we've got a firestorm," said Mickey McCabe, one of the few gambling counselors in the area.

McCabe said while the casinos would create more jobs, they also create opportunities for people to become addicted to gambling.

She said most gamblers are elderly or people living on fixed income.

"In minutes, in minutes, they can lose $1,000," said McCabe. "How much are these checks? $1,100, $900, you know? Not very much."

The state said it's already addressing that concern.

"Any plan that comes in has to address the gambling addiction concern that a lot of people have expressed," said Lupardo.

If the proposition passes, a commission would be created and proposals would be accepted for the new casino.

Each casino applicant would have to have a gambling commission-approved plan to address problem gambling in place.

"The fact that we're even talking about gambling addiction and that this is part of the program in order to get a gambling license for a full scale casino that has to be an aggressive approach is note worthy," said Lupardo.

In addition, all casinos must train their staff in compulsive gambling awareness and a $500 annual fee will be placed on each machine and table.

That money will go directly to gambling treatment and education.

"Yes, I appreciate the fact that they'll be giving a portion of the winnings that has to go towards treatment that's not going to balance out compared to the number of people who already have the addiction," said McCabe.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said if the proposition were to pass, gaming facilities will either be entirely new resorts or conversions of existing NY racinos.