2011-01-21 / Top Stories

Aqueduct Racino Officials Ask For End To Indian Casino

By Howard Schwach


Aqueduct Racino officials and politicians, including State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr., break ground for the new facility. Officials at Genting New York now want the Governor to put a hold on the Indian casino slated for the Catskill Mountains. Aqueduct Racino officials and politicians, including State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr., break ground for the new facility. Officials at Genting New York now want the Governor to put a hold on the Indian casino slated for the Catskill Mountains. Six New York Racino operators, including Genting, New York, the operator of the Racino now under construction at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, are asking Governor Andrew Cuomo and Assembly and state Senate leaders to put the brakes on a contract awarded by former Governor David Paterson in the waning hours of his tenure to a Wisconsin Indian tribe to build a casino on 330 acres, 90 miles north of New York City.

In a letter sent Tuesday to state officials, the group of Racinos argue that a contract awarded by Paterson to Wisconsin’s Stockbridge Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians on December 29 would cripple state-sponsored casinos.

Indian casino operators like the Seneca Nation, have separately opposed the deal because the competition could cost them revenue.

The letter, written on behalf of the operators of Yonkers Raceway, Aqueduct, Monticello Casino and Raceway, Saratoga Gaming and Raceway, the Buffalo Trotting Association and the Finger Lakes Racing Association, said the new Sullivan County casino’s table games and slot machines would lure existing customers from nearby facilities and cost the state millions of dollars in tax revenue.

“We believe that this compact, signed and submitted without public input or oversight and at the very end of Paterson’s tenure, poses significant, negative budgetary impacts for New York state that should be carefully re-evaluated,” the letter reads.

The group estimated that the project would cause Monticello Casino, located about 10 minutes away from the proposed site, to shut down. As a consolation prize, Mr. Paterson reportedly offered Monticello $100 million in state funds to finance an expansion but did not detail where that money would come from.

Those losses would leave the state with $400 million less in annual tax revenue, the group said—including $188 million in state education funding, $127 million in racetrack commissions, $51 million in horse racing industry support and $40 million in lottery administration fees. Indian tribes also pay lower taxes on slots revenue and no taxes on table games, the group said in the letter.

The letter was sent to aides of Cuomo and to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, and state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Republican. The state’s remaining three Racino operators did not sign the letter, but a spokesman for the six Racino operators said the remaining casinos also object to the deal offered by Paterson.

State officials did not respond to requests for comment.

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