Cuomo Says Casino Referendum Could Wait Until 2014

11:10 PM, May 1, 2013   |    comments
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By Jon Campbell, Albany Bureau

ALBANY, NY--  Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday reiterated his plan to place three non-Indian casinos upstate but said he's open to pushing a public vote on the proposal back to 2014.

Cuomo and his aides outlined their position on casinos as part of a public meeting of the governor's cabinet Wednesday. The move would require an amendment to the state's constitution, which means the public would have to approve the change at the ballot box in November.

But some lawmakers have raised concerns about the elections this coming November, when the New York City mayor's race will garner the greatest turnout in a year where there are no state-level races.

"You would have the somewhat unusual circumstance of an election to site casinos in upstate where the largest turnout is New York City, and New York City has no vested interest because there's no casinos in New York City," Cuomo said Wednesday. "That has been raised as a problem, and I think it's a significant problem."

Lawmakers gave first passage to a constitutional amendment last year that would allow up to seven Las Vegas-style casinos statewide, and an amendment must be passed by consecutively elected Legislatures before it goes to a public vote. Now, Cuomo and legislative leaders are negotiating a bill to accompany the amendment that would control how and when the casinos are sited.

Cuomo said moving the vote to 2014, when all statewide elected officials will be on the ballot, is a possibility.

"That would be another option that I would be open to," he said.

The cabinet meeting also focused on Cuomo's plan to create a statewide board to assist in restructuring finances for financially troubled local governments. The board, Cuomo said, could have a hand in resolving labor disputes without binding arbitration. The state's binding arbitration law for local governments and police and fire unions expires June 30.

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