New Yorkers who want to take their chances at Blackjack, roulette or the slots can head down to Atlantic City, Connecticut and upstate New York, but they can’t gamble in Manhattan. That could change one day if Donald Trump makes good on his reported proposal to build the largest casino in the world between 59th and 72nd Streets on the West Side.

Casino gambling is illegal in New York State except on Indian reservations. These casinos need not be located on a reservation, however. A New York tribe could apply to the Department of Interior to develop one off site and then partner with Trump to operate it. The approval process could take four or five years, according to real estate sources spoke with. Local and state would also have to sign off on the project.

In published reports, Governor George Pataki threw his support to casino development upstate where the money is sorely needed. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s position has been that if other areas of the state are allowed to build casinos, the city should not be denied the opportunity.

What is puzzling about the proposal is that Trump has been fighting to prevent any more casinos from being built in New York State for fear they will siphon revenues from the three gambling palaces he owns in Atlantic City. “This doesn’t make any sense. He’s just trying to get some publicity,” the source told “Trump isn’t going to build a casino in Manhattan and shoot himself in the foot.”

Another source knowledgeable about the gaming industry noted that a gambling venue here “could make a lot of money,” but that, “with economic development in Manhattan pretty vibrant, with the economy good, the Catskills is where this belongs.” He also thought Trump might be serious about the effort, even if it would have a negative impact on his Atlantic City holdings. “If casinos are coming to New York, he’d rather do it himself than have someone else make the money.” Trump Organization execs were unavailable for comment.

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