By Joseph Spector
Albany Bureau Chief
ALBANY Gov. Andrew Cuomo predicted Monday that the November referendum to legalize casino gambling in New York will pass, but it will require a "sophisticated argument."
Cuomo said he expects a close decision Nov. 5 when voters will be asked to approve up to seven privately owned casinos in New York, with the first four upstate.
Cuomo said voters might be put off by approving more gambling in New York. But he said New York already has gambling at racetracks and at Indian casinos.
"I think that's going to be the natural knee jerk for people" to reject more gambling, Cuomo said. "You have to say, 'Hold on a second. It's not really gambling versus no gambling. I know we have to change the constitution, but we already have gambling. We just don't call it gambling.' I think it passes, but it's a sophisticated argument, no doubt."
Cuomo hasn't aggressively promoted the referendum, and it's unclear how active he'll be. The first four upstate casinos would be located in three locations: the Southern Tier, Catskills and the Albany area. The Catskills would likely get two.
While there hasn't been active campaign yet to support the referendum, there hasn't been major opposition to it, either. To legalize casino gambling in New York, voters have to approve a change to the state constitution. The measure already passed the state Legislature.
"There are people who are working to pass the referendum. I support the referendum. I'll be working to pass the referendum, and then it's going to be up to the voters to decide whether or not they want it passed," Cuomo said.