A judge has thrown out a lawsuit challenging the amendment to allow casino gambling in New York State. It comes with a November vote on that referendum fast approaching. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman breaks down the decision.
NEW YORK STATE -- A state judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit challenging the casino expansion amendment on the grounds it was filed too late. At issue is the wording of the amendment, which gambling opponents and good government advocates contend takes a favorable view of the benefits of casino expansion.
"We are concerned about whether or not government is putting its thumb on the scales to tip the question in favor of casino interests and we were hoping at least that issue would be aired out in the court," said NYPIRG Legislative Director Blair Horner.
The challenge to the amendment was filed by Brooklyn attorney Eric Snyder, who argued in court documents that ballot language before voters was changed behind closed doors and without public notice. But Judge Richard Platkin ruled the suit was filed too late to challenge the amendment. But the language wasn't made public until August 23rd, four days after the statute of limitations expired.
Snyder said, "I think it's a bit cruel to say that I should have filed the lawsuit by August 19th. The language doesn't even become public until August 23rd. That's just a lack of transparency and a lack of public notice."
The ruling is good news for supporters of casino gambling, including Governor Andrew Cuomo. The state Business Council, which is leading an effort to promote passage of the amendment, called the lawsuit a distraction.
"We think the language is an accurate reflection of what the legislature said they were doing," said Ken Pokalsky, Business Council Vice President of Government Affairs.
The lobbying group points to other amendments in prior years that included similar language touting its benefits, such as the Transportation Bond Act.
A Siena College poll found the amendment's language, which claims casinos would bring jobs, lower property taxes and increase school aid, actually bolstered support for the measure.
Pokalsky said, "When it's put into context, what the amendment will do, what the outcomes will be, what's being proposed, what the economic effect, we think the courts will support that."
Snyder says appealing the decision to the state Appellate Court. But with Election Day weeks away and the ballots already printed, time is running short. Election Day is November 5th.