VLTs suggested for New York airports

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Two New York airports could see video lottery terminals introduced into their departure lounges in a bid to cash in on tourists one more time before they leave the state.

The state Senate's provision would only apply to international departure terminals located within a city of one million or more. This puts Buffalo, Albany, Syracuse among others off the table, but is promising for Kennedy and LaGuardia airports.

But not every state senator is on board. The New York Post reports that State Sen. Joe Addabbo, a Queens representative of the JFK neighbourhood, said he was unaware of the "crazy" provision - which is buried within last week's budget resolution - and would oppose the move.

Other community leaders were also taken by surprise, such as Queens Community Board chairwoman Betty Bratton, whose district covers JFK and Aqueduct. She told the NYP: "There's been no discussion whatsoever. This must be someone's bargaining chip."

Whether slipped into the budget resolution as a favour or not, the move reflects a trend in the state. Last November 57% of New Yorkers voted in a referendum to approve the expansion of casino gambling in the state, permitting the development of as many as seven Las Vegas-style casinos.

It seems they're following Vegas on airport slots too, with Nevada’s McCarran International Airport one of the only airports making the most of a captive audience looking to pass the time in departures. The airport has over 1,000 slot machines and has been reported to collect $25.7m in revenue in 2012 as a result.

Other states such as Chicago and Baltimore have considered airport VLTs but met stiff opposition. Sen. Addabbo told the NYP he thinks this proposal will end up in the "graveyard", so it looks as though the New York plans could meet the same fate.

The provision is yet to be approved by the state Assembly and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose spokesperson told the NYP the JFK slots plan is a "non starter".

Emma Rumney
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