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.

2 Responses

  1. Steven Norton

    When comparing a New York City casino with one at the Meadowlands, a lot of differences jump out. First is the likely cost, in New York; versus adding public space, entertainment theaters and a few hundred rooms to a Meadowland’s casino. Second is the time frame, where NY would have to pass new Legislation, reversing the exclusive periods they gave Aqueduct and Yonkers; and then construct a full resort casino, probably a 4 to 5 year time frame. Where the Meadowlands could be operational within months of a successful referendum, with a temporary licenses, providing probably $200 million a year to both Atlantic City and to NJ Seniors, who have seen their program support from AC casinos; now down by over $200 million a year.
    But the NJ Legislature has to act to determine a very limited number of locations, preferably just the Meadowlands. And they have to establish the tax rate on slots and table games, so that AC and Seniors can estimate what they can expect from a North Jersey casino. Senior support was critical to the 1976 successful AC referendum, and too many possible casino jurisdictions, doomed the 1974 casino referendum. Both need to be addressed before the November vote, or the referendum will probably fail, considering AC’s current opposition and that of several Legislators and unions.

    • Taxpayer

      I’m sure that Resorts World at Aqueduct, owned by one of the largest international casino resorts companies, would have no problem in adding table games within months of an approval to do so. Resorts World is already the largest income producer amongst casinos on the east coast, despite only having slot machines and electronic table games. While Resorts World is eating New Jersey’s lunch, Yonkers raceway could also easily be converted into a full scale casino by adding table games. If New jersey wants to lose a large economic fight, bring it on!


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