Thiele Opposes Casino Legalization in New York

Posted on 21 March 2012

Last week, the New York State Assembly passed a state constitutional amendment that opens the door to the establishment of seven new casinos in New York.

Currently, New York State only allows gambling at Native American-run facilities, although companies are allowed to have video gaming at racetracks in Yonkers and Queens. This change in the state constitution would allow companies to operate seven public casinos in New York, although the state can only legalize casinos if two elected state legislatures adopt this amendment. This is the first time the legislature has voted on the amendment meaning a second vote will be held next year before casinos are legal in New York.

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., opposed the change in law. He noted the assembly passed this amendment with almost no information in terms of where the seven casinos would be situated, what rules they will follow or whether or not a municipality will be able to enact its own legislation to prevent a casino from being built in its community.

“That was one of the principal reasons I voted against this,” said Thiele on Monday. “There are no standards on where it is permitted, no geographic standards and no provisions for home rule. It is completely open ended.”

According to Thiele, Governor Andrew Cuomo — who has championed this change in the state Constitution as being one that could boost the economy and keep gaming money currently the state in New York — has promised details will be revealed before the next vote, but that is not good enough for the veteran assemblyman.

“We don’t know how this will shake out based on what is out there now,” he said. “Right now, I feel the East End is exposed to potentially being the home of a gaming facility.”

As there are so little details, Thiele said it was unclear if local zoning could even be enacted to prevent a casino on the East End.

Lastly, Thiele said he believes the change in law will undercut the Shinnecock Indian Nation’s efforts to open their own casino somewhere in western Suffolk or Nassau County, allowing private operators with more financial support the opportunity to jump ahead of the Shinnecock Nation in running a casino.

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