New York State Senator John Bonacic has predicted that the eastern state may allow more gambling venues to open sooner rather than later should voters in neighboring New Jersey pass a casino-expansion referendum in November.

During an appearance on the Capital Tonight political program, the Republican stated that areas in southern New York including the five boroughs of New York City could begin lobbying for a casino of their own if voters on the other side of the Hudson River approve a measure in the autumn that would permit such venues to operate outside of Atlantic City.

“Jersey, this November, is going to have a referendum [on] whether or not they’re going to put casinos in northern Jersey,” Bonacic, who serves as Chairman for the influential New York Senate Racing, Gaming And Wagering Committee, told Capital Tonight. “I don’t know how that referendum is going. I hear through the grapevine that the polling is negative on the referendum. I have to see how it plays out. Assume the referendum passed in Jersey, I think you could see a fast-forward of the three licenses in New York City. New York is not going to let New Jersey eat our lunch when it comes to revenue from casinos.”

Bonacic represents the state’s 42nd Senate District, which includes Sullivan County alongside portions of Delaware, Orange and Ulster Counties, and fought for many years to bring a casino to the Catskills area. His efforts paid off in December of 2014 when the Gaming Facility Location Board Of New York State approved a site outside of the town of Thompson for the coming Montreign Resort Casino, which is being built by Empire Resorts.

The 74-year-old admitted during the television programme that allowing non-aboriginal casinos to open somewhere in the five boroughs of New York City or on Long Island would likely negatively impact the coming Sullivan County development, which is scheduled to open in January. However, he declared that such a venue would at least contribute some taxes to the state.

Almost three years ago, New York voters approved a referendum pushed by Governor Andrew Cuomo that altered the state’s constitution in order to allow up to seven Las Vegas-style non-aboriginal casinos. In subsequent license award decisions, the New York Gaming Commission gave the green light to four upstate developments encompassing the Montreign Resort Casino alongside The Rivers Casino And Resort At Mohawk Harbor in Schenectady, Tioga County’s Tioga Downs Casino And Racetrack and the Del Lago Resort And Casino located between the cities of Syracuse and Rochester.

Under the measure approved by the electorate in November of 2013, there was to be seven-year moratorium on any casinos in New York City or elsewhere downstate in order to help spur the economies of areas surrounding the four upstate developments.