Gov. Cuomo wants New Yorkers to be able to play traditional roulette, craps and baccarat — just not in the city.
Under the governor’s proposed plan should New York voters approve a referendum scheduled for this November to legalize full gaming, including tables games, casinos with those games would be limited only to upstate for the first five years.
That is not sitting well with Queens elected officials, the Queens Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corporation, who gathered for a rally outside Borough Hall on Tuesday to demand the governor include Resorts World Casino New York City among the first in the state to receive table games providing New York voters approve the referendum this year.
Their argument, why leave out a successful enterprise like Resorts World that has been a good Queens business?
“Resorts World has created hundreds of jobs for Queens residents, has led to millions of dollars in local economic activity and has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to local not-for-profits. Adding table gaming would increase those numbers exponentially,” said Albert Pennisi, president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.
The governor said putting table games at Resorts World — or at any other proposed casino in New York City — would steal business from the upstate gaming facilities.
But supporters of bringing tables, manned with live dealers, to Resorts World said it makes economic sense to bring them there.
“This is about jobs, and bringing table games to Resorts World would create jobs,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park).
Goldfeder, along with state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), said the addition of table games would bring around 1,000 new jobs to the casino.
“Keep in mind the amount of money the casino brings in and would continue to bring in if we had table games and the jobs that would be created with new hotels and restaurants,” Goldfeder added.
Addabbo said Resorts World is prepared to put table games in its facility, as opposed to proposed casinos upstate that have yet to be built.
“The infrastructure is already there,” he said. “It would take them a month to get up and running and we would have table games at Resorts World by the end of January.”
At times, Addabbo seemed to hedge on his support of the referendum, though he did not say he would oppose it or delay it unless Cuomo includes the casino at Aqueduct.
“How can I tell my constituents to vote on a referendum when it wouldn’t help them?” he said.
Recent polls have shown the referendum to be supported by most New Yorkers, but by only a bare margin.
Jack Friedman, the Queens Chamber of Commerce’s executive director, argued that Resorts World’s already proven success makes it a smart place to put table games.
“Why wouldn’t the state take advantage of a market-proven commodity?” he asked. “This is not an either-or position. Allowing table gaming at upstate casinos should not come at the expense of Resorts World or Queens’ economy.”
Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) and Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) also attended the rally, expressing support for the plan.
“I don’t represent the casino, but I represent Queens and this would be good for the whole borough,” Rozic said.