New York’s renewed casino push

December 18, 2012 9:47 am

Albany lawmakers are planning to resume their stealth push to legalize commercial casino in New York in the coming year.

There has been little discussion or debate surrounding casinos in New York and state lawmakers hope to keep it that way. It’s always better to ram through a major policy change with as little attention as possible. Especially a policy that about half of state residents oppose, polls show. Not to mention, a gambling policy that requires changing the state Constitution and will essentially create a regressive tax.

Call it a poor tax. Because that’s what casinos mainly are at the end of the day. Especially the convenience casinos like the ones Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Albany lawmakers want to add around New York. In other states, such convenience casinos attract mostly poor, elderly, minority and working class residents who tend to come gamble several times a week.

Changing the Constitution in New York requires two votes in Albany and then a referendum that goes before voters. The first vote in Albany sailed through in the dark of night earlier this year with little debate or discussion about the policy implications of such a major expansion of gambling. A second vote will likely take place in early 2013.

Cuomo is pushing casinos as a way to generate more tax revenue for New York. Coincidentally, he never even mentioned casinos when he campaigned for governor but became interested as casinos began spending millions on lobbying. Nor has the state completed an independent cost-benefit analysis that determines the added expense of creating more problem gamblers. They don’t want such a study, and instead will just tout the tax revenue and jobs that comes from casinos.

That’s because other research shows that casinos generate more crime, bankruptcy, divorce and suicide. Casinos also do not generate much new spending, but instead divert spending from other businesses. But the allure of the easy tax money prompts lawmakers to turn a blind eye to the destruction they will enable by allowing more casinos.

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One thought on “New York’s renewed casino push

  1. Though your previous column showed how little the benefits truly are in a place like Bethlehem, NYS owes its residents a proper cost-beneift study about the new casinos Gov C calls for. Legislatrue and Gov want to wash their hands and pass buck to a plebiscite infomercialized by Predatory Gambling

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