Names of Casino games
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday laid out a swift schedule for casino development in upstate New York, and introduced a Finger Lakes college president with broad international experience as his man to lead the effort.
In his fourth State of the State address, Cuomo said he wants Hobart and William Smith Colleges President Mark Gearan, a former high-ranking Clinton administration staffer, to be chairman of the New York Gaming Commission — a post that requires state Senate approval.
The governor said he expects the commission to identify winning casino bidders in the third quarter of 2014 so that construction can begin in "early fall."
Gearan, 57, has deep Democratic roots as a former top staffer for the presidential campaign of former Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, the executive director of the Democratic Governors Association from 1989 to 1992, and a deputy director of the 1992 Clinton-Gore transition team. He served President Bill Clinton's administration as deputy chief of staff and assistant; Clinton named him director of the Peace Corps.
When a reporter attempted to interview him after Cuomo's speech, Gearan was focused on catching up with his friend and fellow Clinton White House veteran, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, to shake his hand.
In a brief interview, Gearan indicated that he doesn't participate much in gaming and doesn't know the four other members of the gaming commission, all of whom were appointed by Cuomo. Two other positions on what is supposed to be a seven-member commission have gone vacant as the Assembly and Senate has not advanced any nominees.
Gearan, who became president at the Geneva-based liberal arts college in 1999, said he's ready to return to public service. The part-time position offers $300 in per diem pay.
Gearan's campus, along the shores of Seneca Lake, is outside the regions eligible for commercial casinos. It is in the Seneca Indian Nation's gambling zone and near the Finger Lakes Race Track, which has a racino.
Gearan said he sees the economic development value of casinos, but seemed unfamiliar with the industry as well as some projects proposed near Hobart — including a $350 million resort casino plan in Seneca County announced last month by Rochester developer Thomas Wilmot.
Several people said Cuomo seems to setting a fast pace for the process. "New York will prove that it is up to the challenge, " the governor said.
In the address, Cuomo said the five-member siting board will be appointed this month. Requests for applications will be made in March, with bids due in June. Licenses will be issued in early fall.
Up to seven casinos can be built in New York after voters in November approved an amendment to the state constitution. According to a separate casino blueprint approved by Cuomo and lawmakers last year, the first four resorts can be built in three upstate areas: the Capital Region, the Hudson Valley/Catskills and the Southern Tier/Finger Lakes.
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