By Dan Hust
SULLIVAN COUNTY Word from Albany is the state’s three top officials Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Majority Leader Sheldon Silver have agreed this week to push a constitutional amendment to permit gambling.
According to several news sources, the men met in classic Albany style behind closed doors on Wednesday to hash out the details on casinos and other issues, including redistricting.
They emerged with consensus that the state should have up to seven non-Indian casinos, with at least one likely to be in Sullivan County.
Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther is a prime co-sponsor of the resolution (A9556) which will need to be passed again in the new session of the Legislature next year, then go to the public for a vote.
“After so many years of talk, it’s great to finally see movement in the right direction,” said Gunther. “This is a critical piece in bolstering Sullivan County’s struggling economy, and I am proud to have worked with Governor Cuomo to make this happen.”
In a statement, Sen. Bonacic said, “This is about construction jobs, jobs at resort-casinos, and expanding our tourism economy. The long-ago made promise of casino gaming is closer to reality thanks to a bi-partisan approach in the Senate and Assembly and a powerful leader in Governor Cuomo,”
Senator Bonacic is chairman of both the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has oversight of Constitutional Amendments, and the Senate Racing Committee, which will develop the enacting legislation.
He sponsored the Constitutional amendment at the request of Governor Cuomo.
Empire Resorts, which operates Monticello Casino and Raceway and just announced a casino resort in nearby Kiamesha Lake, responded with optimism.
“This positive announcement from Albany comes on the heels of Empire Resorts and Entertainment Property Trust’s recent presentation to the Town of Thompson regarding our plans at the Concord Resort,” said Charles Degliomini, Empire’s executive vice president. “Table games at our site would be welcome news and could help us create even more jobs and economic opportunity.
He added, “We are grateful for Governor Cuomo’s leadership on this matter, and thank Sen. Bonacic and Assemblywoman Gunther for playing a key role as sponsors of the resolution to begin the process of amending the state constitution to allow casino gaming in New York.”