Markowitz takes a bet on Coney Island casino

January 17, 2012 Denise Romano
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A casino could call Coney Island home if Brooklyn BoroughPresident Marty Markowitz gets his way.

Markowitz floated the idea on January 4, in light of GovernorAndrew Cuomo’s State of the State Address, which mentioned changingstate casino regulations to allow Genting, a large gaming company,to build the largest convention center in North America at AqueductRace Track in Queens, including a casino, using $4 million of itsown funds. Racino, which includes slot machines and electronictable games, opened at Aqueduct in October, 2011.

I look forward to the opportunity to bring a logic and strategyto gaming operations in the state over the next two years throughdevelopment of casino legislation and regulations, Cuomo wrote ina letter to Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly SpeakerSheldon Silver.

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In the interim, any transaction that the state makes withGenting or any modifications to the current state agreement will besubmitted to the legislature for full review and action beforebecoming binding, he went on. Given the past history, while I mayhave the legal authority to proceed unilaterally, I choose to onlyproceed in full public view and with support of the legislature ina spirit of cooperation.

Markowitz told this newspaper that a lot has to happen before agreen light is given, Not the least of which is legislative actionand a constitutional amendment approved by voters, a process thatwould minimally take two to three years, he said. If that were tohappen and serious discussions begin on bringing a casino to NewYork City, certainly Coney Island is a natural location and shouldbe part of the mix when considering possible sites.

Chuck Reichenthal, district manager of Community Board 13, saidthat the board – an advisory panel made up of community members –has not yet taken a position on the issue. It’s all brand new forthe umpteenth time, he said. There isn’t much to say at thispoint. There are positives and negatives and we will look at all ofthem as time indicates we should.

Councilmember Domenic Recchia said that Coney Island’s 50,000year-round residents need to be taken into consideration. Thereshould be an open, transparent process and we have to see if they[residents] support it or don’t. If we do bring it in, we must haveprograms that will be paid for by the gaming industry for theprevention of gambling addiction, he said.

Recchia added that a casino could bring jobs to theneighborhood. When I rezoned, I made sure that there were parcelsof land that could develop a hotel. We have to have the rightsituation, he explained. But will they bring it [a casino] toConey Island with it being so close to the Aqueduct RaceTrack?

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