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Las Vegas casino resolution gets nod in New York state

A ballot measure that passed Tuesday night will allow for full-scale casino gambling in New York. Photo by Christina Santucci
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New York voters decided to bring Las Vegas-style casinos to the state when they approved a controversial ballot measure Tuesday night.

Some 57 percent of voters approved it, while 43 percent voted against it, according to the Associated Press.

The measure, which will amend the state Constitution, asked voters to “allow the Legislature to authorize and regulate up to seven casinos for the legislated purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated.”

But those who opposed the referendum said it will not benefit the state as much as proponents claim and that it will rely on gambling addiction to succeed.

The Coalition Against Gambling in New York had argued that the revenues from the casinos would actually amount to just a few dollars for property tax relief and aid to education, especially for New York City residents.

And members of the coalition say the amendment relies on problem and pathological gamblers to succeed.

The original state Constitution banned gambling, but over time amendments have been made to allow some forms of gambling, such as video lottery terminals and racetrack betting pools. Full-scale casinos now are allowed only on land owned by native Americans.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who called the amendment a “big win,” said it will help create new jobs, more construction and more tourism across the state.

“This vote builds on the landmark agreements we reached with native American tribes this year, ending expensive court battles and unnecessary discord and restoring hundreds of millions of dollars to local governments,” he said.

Resorts World in Ozone Park, the only casino in New York City, also celebrated the measure’s passing.

“We’re pleased voters recognize the important contribution the gaming industry makes to New York’s economy, workforce and education system,” spokeswoman Kerri Lyons said. “The passage of this constitutional amendment will only expand our industry’s ability to create good-paying jobs for thousands of New Yorkers and provide crucial funds for schools across the state.”

The only measure voters blocked was one that would have increased the age until which some state judges can serve. While 39.2 percent voted for it, 60.8 percent voted against it.

Under current law, the retirement age for a state Supreme Court justice is 70. Justices are eligible to apply for three two-year terms after they have reached the age limit. The amendment would have made justices eligible for five two-year terms so they could serve until they are 80 rather than 76 under the current law. The amendment would have changed the age limit for state Court of Appeals judges from 70 to 80.

Voters approved four other measures: one, which was passed with 83.6 percent of the vote, will allow veterans to receive additional civil service credit after they have already received credit or a civil service appointment. The measure is designed to help disabled vets get civil service jobs.

They also approved an amendment that will allow local municipalities — counties, cities, towns and villages — to continue to exclude the construction of sewage facilities from their debt limit. That was passed by 62.2 percent of the vote.

They approved a measure that will give the state Legislature authorization to settle a 100-year-old Adirondack dispute with landowners in Long Lake, N.Y., involving more than 1,000 acres the state says is part of a forest preserve. When the final votes were counted, 72.4 percent of voters supported the measure.

Lastly, 53.1 percenet of voters approved another Adirondack referendum that authorizes the Legislature to exchange some land in the state forest preserve in Lewis, N.Y., with a private mining company.

Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at bfortis@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Posted 12:00 am, November 8, 2013
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