Progress Toward a Single Gambling Commission for New York

ALBANY — As the state moves toward legalizing full-scale casinos, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and lawmakers have agreed to overhaul the regulation of gambling, concentrating power in a panel that would be largely controlled by the governor.

Budget legislation released over the weekend by the Assembly and the Senate would create a New York State Gaming Commission, which would operate the state’s lottery, regulate bingo halls and other charitable gambling, and regulate Indian casinos, horse racing and video lottery terminals at racetracks. The commission would replace and consolidate the existing Racing and Wagering Board and the New York State Lottery Division, and would have expanded oversight powers.

The legislation has been agreed to by the governor and legislative leaders, but is still subject to approval by legislators to become law. Legislators are scrambling to wrap up negotiations this week on a budget for the state’s next fiscal year, which begins Saturday.

The new commission would have seven members, five of them appointed by the governor, one by the Assembly speaker and one by the Senate majority leader. A similar commission was proposed by Mr. Cuomo in January.

The Legislature has already taken the first step toward legalizing non-Indian-owned private casinos in New York, voting to endorse a constitutional amendment that would allow up to seven Las Vegas-style casinos. The constitutional amendment would have to be approved once more by the Legislature, and then by voters, to become law.

But it remains unclear how casino licenses would be granted. The new commission would not automatically have the authority to grant those licenses.

The state is already home to multiple tribal casinos, but advocates for legalizing other privately-run casinos say they could generate new tax revenue for the state. The industry is also a likely source of campaign donations for elected officials, who would make numerous important decisions in coming years about where, when and how to permit casino gambling.

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