Could N.Y. voters' casino approval hurt Pa.?

Gamblers at the Monticello Casino & Raceway in Monticello, N.Y. The vote allows seven more casinos.
Gamblers at the Monticello Casino & Raceway in Monticello, N.Y. The vote allows seven more casinos. (AP)
Posted: November 08, 2013

Voter approval Tuesday of a constitutional amendment in New York authorizing seven full-scale casinos means Pennsylvania will be boxed in by states determined to keep gambling taxes at home.

New York already has had Native American-run casinos and slot machines at racetracks since 2004, the year Pennsylvania legalized casino gambling. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo is aiming for a bigger pot than the $823 million in gambling money the state won last year.

"[The] vote by New Yorkers to authorize casino gaming will keep hundreds of millions of dollars spent each year in neighboring states right here in New York," Cuomo said Wednesday in detailing how an expected $430 million in new gambling revenue will be distributed regionally.

The same impulse drove other former holdouts to open casinos, given Pennsylvania's success in keeping gamblers closer to home. Maryland adopted gaming in 2010, Ohio last year.

Before the end of the year, Massachusetts could approve its first slots parlor. The competitors for that license, Cordish Cos., Greenwood Gaming Inc., and Penn National Gaming Inc., all have Pennsylvania ties.

Sometime next year, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is scheduled to choose from six contenders for Philadelphia's second casino license.

Every new casino proposal in the Northeast raises the question of how many more slot machines and poker tables the market can bear.

"If they actually build the casinos that have been authorized in New York, we're at the point where I would have to say enough is enough," said Clyde Barrow, director of the Center for Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. "We're at or beyond saturation."

Barrow said he doubted additional New York casinos would have much impact on Pennsylvania, with the exception, perhaps, of one in the state's southeast.

Frank Fantini, publisher of Fantini's Gaming Report, an industry newsletter, said New York could have a broader impact, hitting Sands Casino-Resort Bethlehem, in particular.

"One of the things that Bethlehem does very, very well is they import Asian players from New York City," Fantini said. "A casino in the Catskills would obviously be a competitor for that segment of business."

Efforts to reach Sands for comment were unsuccessful.


hbrubaker@phillynews.com

215-854-4651

@InqBrubaker

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