ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo says New York's Indian casinos could face competition in their backyards if tribes and the state fail to reach agreements in the coming months.
"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," Governor Cuomo said. "For years neighboring states like Connecticut and New Jersey have benefited from New Yorkers leaving our state to visit their gaming facilities. 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. This proposal sites gaming resorts through an independent, non-political process, to fairly and strategically capitalize on the enormous potential gaming has for growing our state's economy."
The administration's talks with the Senecas, Mohawks and Oneidas come as Cuomo tries to bring three casinos in yet-to-be identified locations upstate. Three of the six upstate regions Cuomo is looking at already have Indian casinos. Cuomo says Thursday he's working with the tribes to resolve existing issues, like revenue sharing with the state.
Cuomo says they won't try to site a casino near casinos run by tribes in good standing with the state.
The Governor's Proposed Plan: Linking Tourism, Jobs and Revenue:
The Governor's plan for resort gaming destinations would be at the center of a strategy that combines tourism, economic development, and revenue, especially for upstate New York. The plan includes these key details:
Locations for Resort Gaming Destinations: Three resorts would be bid out in upstate New York. Under the plan, upstate New York would be divided into six regions. Only one resort could be located within a region.
Indian Gaming: Three regions in the State have Indian gaming. An Indian Nation with a zone of exclusivity would have that zone honored by the state when siting new resorts, as long as the compact between the nation and the state is in good standing. If the compact is not in good standing, the region would be eligible for a commercial (non-Indian) gaming resort.
Evaluation Criteria for Selection of the Resort Gaming Destinations: Evaluation Criteria will include:
· Number of Jobs
· Amount of Capital Investment (expected floor of $250-$500 million)
· Amount of Projected Revenue to States and Localities
· Local Support (Home Rule)
· Amount of Franchise Fee
· Vision for Development and Integration with Regional Tourism
In addition, a series of added evaluation criteria will include:
· Immediate and Full Financing Available
· Comprehensive Development Approach
· Experience in Gaming Development
· Speed in Construction/Date of Completion
· Pass Ethics and Integrity Reviews
· Workforce Development
· Labor Agreement
· Environmental Sensitivity
· Addressing Problem Gambling
The selection criteria are the minimum threshold for any project to be approved in a region even if no competing projects are offered. Winning projects would be given a five-year exclusive period with no additional casinos cited in New York City or Upstate. Racinos would be able to compete as well, and all contracts with horse tracks would be honored.
Recipients of Revenue Distribution:
· 10% for the host community
· 10% for counties in the region
· 80% for the state
Uses of Revenue: The revenue would be used for state education aid above the annual formula, property tax relief, and reimbursement for local costs.
Independent Selection Commission: The Commission will include real estate and finance experts, and a financial advisor will be selected by the panel. The Commission is temporary and would dissolve following completion of its work. The Legislature would not be involved in the selection process.
A public referendum to change New York's constitution to allow non-Indian casinos could be on the ballot as early as November.