Gov. Andrew Cuomo has laid out a timeline that could have at least some new casinos opening within a year. A siting committee would issue a request for casino applications in March, and bids would come in by June and be reviewed over the summer, with the assistance of an outside consultant. By early fall the winners would be announced. The five-member siting committee, which is made up of financial and real estate experts, already includes former state budget director Paul Francis, former New York City comptroller Bill Thompson and Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz.
Although the Oneidas helped fund a push to let local governments decide whether to allow new casinos in their communities, that effort fell by the wayside when the Cuomo administration secured a landmark agreement with the tribe. While community input is to be taken into account by the state’s casino siting committee, localities will not have the power to reject casinos. A bill introduced by state Senators Liz Krueger and Cecilia Tkaczyk proposed requiring local governments to pass a law in support of any new casino, but the governor’s office quickly shot it down.
The Cuomo administration paved the way for casino expansion by securing revenue-sharing agreements with three Native American tribes with upstate casinos. The agreements guarantee the Seneca Nation of Indians, the Oneida Indian Nation and the St. Regis Mohawks geographical exclusivity, and helped determine where new casinos can be built. The Senecas, who operate three casinos in Western New York, have identified a Rochester-area location outside of its exclusivity zone for another casino.