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Pols consider casino gambling at Aqueduct Race Track

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo has given indications that he is open to legalizing non-Indian casino gambling in the state, which could pave the way for blackjack tables and roulette wheels at the soon-to-be-opened racino at Aqueduct Race Track.

The only casinos in New York are run by native American tribes, while some of the state’s racetracks have only limited gambling in the form of video lottery terminals.

About 2,500 VLTs are part of the plans for Resorts World New York, the operator of the Aqueduct racino, which is expected to open in the fall.

A spokesman for Genting, the operator of Resorts World, and state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), who represents the area around Aqueduct and is a member of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, said they welcome expanding gambling in the state.

“Resorts World New York fully supports creating tens of thousands of new jobs across the state by giving consumers more choices and looks forward to working with those in Albany who want to do the same,” said Genting spokesman Stefan Friedman.

Of course, legalizing non-native American casinos would help attract more customers to the Aqueduct racino, which is currently only allowed to have the VLTs.

Addabbo said he supports Cuomo’s idea “with conditions.

“I think we have to be competitive with the upstate full casinos,” said Addabbo, who also warned that “not every venue could accommodate gambling.

“I would hate for some storefront to have six slot machines,” he said.

Addabbo said the state Legislature is considering proposing a bill to legalize gambling when it returns in January.

“And with the governor talking in favor of it, it adds momentum,” said Addabbo, who co-sponsored legislation to legalize table games at casinos when ex-Gov. David Paterson was in office, but the bill got held up.

Addabbo said he is not against having more gambling options at nearby Belmont Race Track on the Queens-Nassau County border and believes Aqueduct could benefit from competition.

“They can co-exist if they offer different amenities,” the senator said.

Meanwhile, Resorts World has changed from a three-phase opening to a two-phase plan, which pushes its opening to October, because of lead paint and abestos removal and pigeon droppings.

“It has more to do with lead paint and asbestos, so we had some extra work to do there,” a source familiar with the project said.

But the change in plans also means 900 more VLTs will be available for the opening – 1,600 VLTs were originally slates to be available at the opening – and the food court will be accessible.

“We think we’re opening with a bit more of a bang in October” as opposed to the original plans, the source said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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