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Fight over where to put new casinos

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Albany/HV: Fight over where to put new casinos
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A new poll by The Beneson Strategy Group shows a majority of New Yorkers support an amendment for more casinos in New York State, but that number drops when you tell them that they won't have any control over their location. Zach Fink explains.

NEW YORK STATE -- The fight over where to put casinos has already begun and voters haven't even given the state the okay yet.

Governor Andrew Cuomo wants an independent commission to make the decision, even though all the members of that commission would appointed by him. Legislators want at least some input. They say the public should determine whether or not casinos can be built in their communities.

"There has to be some element of local choice. You cannot simply impose this type of a drastic change upon families in a neighborhood unless they are willing to accept it, they are willing to have it," said Assemblyman William Colton.

A new poll says New Yorkers are not overly enthusiastic about legalized gambling in the first place.

"The proposition for the constitutional amendment starts out in a slightly weakened position. It starts out with only 54 percent of likely New York Voters saying they would vote yes. For a ballot amendment, that is a very low number," pollster Joel Benenson said.

"The poll was commissioned by New Yorkers for Local Approval of Casinos, which got its seed money from the Oneida Indian Nation, which operates its own casino in Central New York near Utica. There are some who believe that even if gambling gets approved by voters in a referendum, it still faces hurdles, including the potential for lawsuits from Indian nations.

Colton said, "There are going to be complications, because, let's face it, casinos are big money for those who are building them, for those who are running them. And when you have big money involved, they are going to fight to protect their interest."

Governor Cuomo is already hinting that some Indian nations could be dealt out.

"In parts of the state where we have contractual agreements with good standing, we will honor those agreements. Primarily with the Indian run casinos. But the agreements need to be in good standing, which means the agreements must be honored by both parties," Cuomo said.

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