Now that voters have approved the casino amendment legalizing up to seven full-fledged casinos in New York, state Sen. John Bonacic is hopeful that the winning bids for the initial four upstate casinos will be selected by the middle of next year.
“I’m optimistic that we’ll know who the winners are by this summer,” said Bonacic, the chair of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee and a longtime proponent of casino expansion in the Catskills.
The next steps include filling the three vacancies on the state’s Gaming Commission, whose members will set up a five-person siting board made up of independent financial experts, economists and real estate professionals. The siting board will then put out a request for applications, and will analyze the bids before making a decision.
Bonacic acknowledged that expanded gambling comes with costs, but said that any new “resort” casinos would spur tourist destinations, help create jobs and raise property values, especially in his economically depressed district in the Catskills.
“This is a great victory for the people of the State of New York,” Bonacic said. “I always trust the wisdom of the people, and especially, for my district, this is a game-changer.”