Cahill Bill Requires Legislative Approval of Casinos in Ulster County

Legislation would halt the Governor’s open-ended authority to locate a casino in Ulster County
March 28, 2007

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D – Ulster, Dutchess) announced that he has introduced legislation (A.6517) that would prohibit the locating of a casino within the boundaries of Ulster County without prior legislative approval. "In recent years, many communities in Ulster County have made clear that they do not support bringing casino gambling into the region,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “There is a consensus that this type of economic development initiative is not the right fit for the region.”

In 2001, then Governor George Pataki pushed through legislation authorizing the Executive to enter in to tribal compacts that would allow up to three Class III gaming facilities in Sullivan and Ulster Counties. The current law does not require the Governor to seek the approval of the counties prior to entering into an agreement. Since the enactment of that law several towns and villages including Gardiner, Marbletown, New Paltz, Plattekill, Saugerties, Shandaken and Woodstock have all adopted resolutions stating their opposition to casino gambling.

If the recently announced agreement to construct a casino in Sullivan County is allowed to move forward, the Governor would still have the authority to negotiate up to two more casinos in the Catskills. “Currently the law allows the state to authorize up to three casinos in Ulster County,” said Mr. Cahill. “My bill will amend that law to assure the residents of Ulster that a casino will not be approved here without first receiving our permission.” Legislation has been introduced in the Senate, as recently as last June (S.8396 of 2006), that would provide for the approval and implementation of an Indian land claim settlement agreement that would specifically authorize the development of casinos in Ulster County.

“Our communities have not been presented with facts that show the revenue generated from a casino would offset the considerable burden its operation would place on the environment, infrastructure and local services that will have to be paid for through higher property taxes,” said Mr. Cahill. “We have enough low wage jobs in the area, a new casino will do nothing to bring in the kind of quality employment that Ulster County sorely needs.”

“With so many of our municipalities having already expressed their opposition to casinos I look forward to the support of my Senate counterparts guiding this legislation to passage,” Mr. Cahill concluded.