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Cuomo wins on casino and judge retirement age ballot amendments

The success of Proposition 1, the ballot amendment to expand casino gambling, and the failure of the last amendment, to allow judges to serve until age 80, are both wins for Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo championed the bill to allow seven resort-style gambling casinos in New York. Cuomo stayed in the background during the election season, recording just one robo-call in the final days. A highly disciplined coalition of business and labor groups, all allies of the governor, ran a campaign that focused not on casinos or gambling, but the jobs they could create, the additional money for schools and possible property tax reduction.

Even the actual ballot amendment language, which Cuomo is said to have influenced, mentioned the potential jobs and tax cuts, and did not even use the word casinos.

In a statement, Cuomo said approval of the gambling expansion “is a big win for local governments, school districts, and taxpayers across New York State.” Cuomo also said he expects the casinos will create construction jobs and boost tourism revenue.

At least one gambling entity, Foxwoods of Connecticut, says it intends to seek a license to build a full service destination resort casino in the Catskills.

The governor stayed out of the campaign for Proposition 6, which would have let some state judges remain on the bench until the age of 80, though he did say there were some questions about it.

Because the retirement age for judges will remain at 70, several judges on the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, will now have to leave in the next few years. Others reach the end of their 14 year terms. That means Cuomo, if he wins reelection in 2014, would appoint all seven judges serving on the state’s highest court.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.