Push to Bring Full Gambling to Resorts

Originally Written the Queens Ledger

Queens elected officials and business leaders are calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to remember New York City when it comes to legalizing gambling in the state.

They held a rally on the steps of Queens Borough Hall last week urging the governor to amend his plan to only allow full gambling in upstate casinos, and instead bring it to the Resorts World New York racino in Queens.

Cuomo is against bringing table gaming to New York because he believes it will ultimately hurt tourism and the overall economy of upstate New York. He proposes opening three casinos upstate, while placing a five-year ban on casinos from opening in the city, Long Island and the northern suburbs.

The plan is still subject to approval by the state legislature.

Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, disagrees with the notion that a casino in the city would kill the prospect of success for upstate gambling.

“It’s not an either-or proposition,” he said last week. “There is room for both.”

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder believes that the city could use the economic activity created by a full-gaming casino, especially in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, and that the rest of the state benefits from a robust economy in New York City.

“If we are going to grow our economy, we’ve got to find a way to do it in Queens,” he said.

Business leaders and elected officials also praised Resorts World for being a good neighbor to the local community, and believe the company would be able to bring full gambling to the city in a responsible manner.

They cite the company’s willingness to address community concerns, as well as its commitment to hiring locally.

“Resorts World has been an outstanding economic catalyst for the borough,” said Al Pennisi, president of the chamber. “The overwhelming revenue from the casino demonstrates that people thoroughly enjoy the venue, but it’s also important to note that Resorts World makes a special effort to hire locally.”

Resorts World has an unoccupied third floor that could easily accommodate expanded betting, and the addition of even more gaming would create an estimated 1,000 more jobs.

“We need strong job creation to make sure our communities are able to rebuild,” said Goldfeder. “I’m confident Resorts World is the partner to finally get our economy back.”

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