For once, Sheldon Adelson is right.
The billionaire casino mogul opposes legalizing online gambling because of the danger to children, the poor, elderly and others who could be exploited by easy access to betting via the Internet. (Oh, and another unmentioned reason: Adelson wants his Las Vegas Sands casinos to remain one of the main places to exploit gamblers.)
But this time at least Adelson’s self interest is in line with smart public policy. (There’s a line I never thought I would write.) The Washington Post reports that Adelson is using his deep pockets and lobbying influence to get Congress to ban Internet gambling.
Three states are gearing up to allow Internet gambling and the federal government is considering getting in on the action. As a result, online betting is shaping up to be one of the heaviest lobbying battles in 2014. Most of the major casinos support Internet gambling, provided, of course, they operate the betting sites.
But Adelson is fighting the effort. He has begun hiring lobbyists and public relations experts in Washington and in state capitals to press his case, The Post said.
Adelson has begun hiring lobbyists and public relations experts in Washington and in state capitals nationwide to press his case in what is shaping up to be one of the most heavily lobbied debates of 2014. He plans to launch a advocacy group in January called the Coalition to Stop internet Gambling. (A possible subtitle: And to keep all the gambling money in casinos).
Adelson is correct that Internet gambling could be even more destructive than casinos. Customers will be able to gamble anywhere and anytime from their home or mobile phone. It will be especially difficult to prevent children and teens from gambling. The ease of access is expected to create even more gambling addicts.
So for now at least, welcome Mr. Adelson to the efforts to raise awareness about the dangers of more legalized gambling.
Tags: casinos, Internet gambling, Las Vegas Sands, lobbyists, online, Sheldon Adelson
New Yorkers voted to change the state constitution to legalize up to seven casinos across the state.
The controversial measure was approved by 57 percent of voters. The vote likely would have been closer if the Cuomo administration had not rigged the ballot to place rosy wording in the referendum that touted potential benefits of casinos without mentioning any of the costs. Polls showed voters were evenly divided over casinos, but support increased after voters were given the misleading language.
Gambling interests also raised $4 million to promote the measure largely through TV ads. Another $59 million has been spent by gambling interests since 2005 on lobbying and donations to lawmakers, including more than $1 million to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. (See The New York Times report here.)
As a candidate, Cuomo never discussed casinos. But eight months into his term, he suddenly championed casinos and later cut a series of deals with Indian casino operators and racetrack operators in order to reduce opposition from gambling interests. He said the casinos could generate “$1 billion in economic activity” for the state but failed to hold any public hearings or conduct a cost-benefit analysis into more gambling. Cuomo’s $1 billion figure came from an interview a gambling industry lobbyist gave to a Albany business publication.
Cuomo also said the first four casinos would be built in upstate New York. This also helped to mute opposition in and around New York City, where polls showed more residents were opposed to casinos. But now that the measure has passed it will only be a matter of time before casinos are built in and around the city.
Cuomo said casinos would generate jobs and economic development for the state. However, the jobs that come from casinos do not outweigh the many costs that will come from having more residents gambling more often. (At several casinos in and around Philadelphia, customers come an average of three to five times a week.) More broadly, casinos do not generate new spending but merely divert it.
Studies show that casinos generate anywhere from 30 percent to 55 percent of their revenues from repeat and problem gamblers. Studies also show that where casinos locate there is an increase in social costs, including more crime, bankruptcy, divorce and suicide. One study found that for every $1 in casino revenue creates $3 in costs.
So Cuomo may have won the casino vote, but New York lost.
Tags: Albany, ballot, casinos, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York, referendum., vote
In a hotly contested race like legalizing casinos in New York, it is worth noting what the leading newspaper editorial boards have to say about the issue.
The New York Times makes the most compelling case against casinos. Interestingly, the New York Post agrees with The Times: It is not often those two papers are on the same page, which is telling. This must be a bad idea on all fronts.
A number of other leading newspapers urge residents to vote no against casinos, including The Albany Times Union, The Syracuse Post-Dispatch and The Watertown Daily Times. Each paper makes a thoughtful and well-reasoned case against casinos.
What is even more compelling are the papers in support of casinos. Those editorials struggle to make the case for casinos and lack common sense and logic. In doing so, the editorials actually underscore why commercial casinos would be bad for the state.
The New York Daily News said casinos are a lousy way for government to raise money and will lead to more addiction, but vote yes anyway. Uh?
The Poughkeepsie Journal called the casino ballot language “one-sided” and said the state played “fast and loose with this issue,” while failing to mention the “legitimate concerns.” Keep in mind, this is an editorial in support of casinos.
Newsday actually praised Cuomo’s crass politics and secret deal-making. But then added this gem as part of its, ah, casino support: “It’s not that there isn’t plenty to oppose in both the gambling expansion and the way it’s been handled. The casinos may not provide as much upstate revitalization as hoped. They would inevitably increase the number of problem gamblers where they are located.”
With casino supporters like this, who needs an informed opposition?
Tags: casinos, editorial boards, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York, New York Daily News, New York Post, Newsday, Syracuse Post-Standard, The New York Times, The Poughkeepsie Journal
E. J. McMahon, the president of the Empire Center for Public Policy, details the real impact – of lack of – from the proposal to change the state constitution in order to allow up to seven casinos in New York.
Here’s his conclusion: “The pro-casino campaign is at least confirming one old adage: There’s a sucker born every minute.”
McMahon explains how little impact casinos will have on the state, despite the claims by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other gambling supporters. “A large majority of New York City residents think the non-Indian gambling casinos authorized by Proposal One on next week’s statewide ballot will bring in ‘significant new revenue for New York state and local governments,’ according to a New York Times-Siena poll released Tuesday,” he wrote in the New York Post. “If they’re voting “yes” on that basis, they’re in for a rude awakening.”
Tags: casinos, E.J. McMahon, New York, New York Post, sucker's bet
It is rare the editorial boards at The New York Times and The New York Post agree on anything, let alone a major public policy issue. But within the past few days, both the Times and Post have come out against changing the state constitution to legalize casinos in New York.
The Post editorial board said the proposal to change the state constitution to allow casinos was a “bad bet for many reasons.” The Post pointed to the rigged language on the ballot that claims several dubious benefits without mentioning the costs. The Post rightly said casinos are a regressive tax on the poor and pointed to the lack of economic benefits from gambling.
“If the governor wants to revitalize New York, let’s not do it by taxing those who can least afford it. Let’s do it the old-fashioned way: by building an economy that encourages thrift, investment and enterprise,” The Post said. Read the full editorial here: http://nypost.com/2013/10/29/the-casino-cuomo/
Meanwhile, The Times also urged voters to reject the casino measure that is on the Nov. 5 ballot. The Times cited many of the same reasons as the Post. Read the full editorial here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/25/opinion/no-to-more-casinos-in-new-york-state.html?_r=0&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1383098418-ux2qc7InbhAAjXsjrAeqMw
The fact that both papers – with such differing political views on many issues – agree that casinos are bad for New York speaks volumes about how misguided the effort is to change the constitution in order to enable more residents to gamble.
Tags: casinos, editorial boards, gambling, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, The New York Post, The New York Times
Here is some insight into how the casino industry has made New York lawmakers - including Gov. Andrew Cuomo - swoon. Just read this over-the-top love letter to the Resorts World racino in Queens written by state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Queens): http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/racino-good-gamble-article-1.1494716
Or perhaps that should be Sen. Addabbo (D-Resorts World).
The Resorts World public relations office couldn’t produce such shameless drivel and still maintain a straight face. But Sen. Addabbo manages to prattle on about the benefits of the Queens racino as if was the second-coming of General Electric or Apple. What an embarrassment.
Sen. Addabbo’s shameless piece describes Resorts World as an “anchor for local business” and a “pillar.” But Sen. Addabbo cites no economic data to support any of his claims other than the racino jobs, a new subway station built to funnel gamblers to the racino, and a blood drive the racino hosted. How ironic, considering the racino is expert at also bleeding gamblers dry of their money.
So why the love affair with casinos by New York lawmakers? Here’s one reason: Gambling interests have spent $59 million in New York on lobbying and campaign contributions since 2005. If New Yorkers vote to legalize commercial casino on Nov. 5, look for even more money to flow to lawmakers in Albany, including Sen. Addabbo.
Here’s my response to Sen. Addabbo’s pathetic op-ed. Thanks to the New York Daily News for publishing it: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/guest-casinos-losing-bet-article-1.1498271
Tags: Albany, Apple, casinos, General Electric, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Queens, racino, Resorts World, Sen. Joseph Addabbo
The last great American newspaper explains why New York does not need more casinos.
In a fiercely-reasoned editorial, The New York Times urges residents to vote no in the Nov. 5 referendum seeking to change the state constitution to allow commercial casinos. Read the editorial here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/25/opinion/no-to-more-casinos-in-new-york-state.html?_r=0
The same arguments can be made against the spread of casinos in other states. The Times cites a number of compelling reasons – backed by studies and the historical record – why governments should not be in the business of enabling casinos: Gambling is regressive. The tax bonanza is fleeting. Casinos hurt existing businesses. Home prices near casinos decrease.
The Times points to the failure of casinos in Atlantic City: “The percentage of people below the poverty line there has increased to 29.3 percent from 22.5 percent in four decades. The unemployment rate is at about 18 percent, and the crime rate is almost three times that of the surrounding county.”
The Times also points to the failure of Gov. Cuomo to make the case for more gambling: “Mr. Cuomo has not successfully made the case that casinos will provide long-term benefits.”
Tags: casinos, editorial, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York Times
David Blankenhorn has challenged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to a debate about casinos.
Blankenhorn is the author of “New York’s Promise: Why Sponsoring Casinos is a Regressive Policy Unworthy of a Great State.” (Read it here: http://www.americanvalues.org/pdfs/New-Yorks-Promise.pdf.) Meanwhile, Cuomo is leading the effort to change New York’s constitution to legalize casinos.
The state constitution prohibits casinos but a referendum is on the Nov. 5 ballot that, if approved, would clear the way for New York to allow up to seven casinos.
Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values, which supports this blog, believes it is wrong for states to try to fund government operations off of the backs of gamblers. He wrote an op-ed in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (read it here: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/opinion/2013/10/13/casinos-represent-regressive-policies/2974867/) in which he offers to debate Cuomo about the costs and benefits of casinos in order to “help New Yorkers reach an informed decision on this important question of public policy.”
No word if Cuomo will engage in a debate. But don’t hold your breath.
Tags: "New York's Promise", Andrew Cuomo, casinos, David Blankenhorn, debate
New York’s Roman Catholic bishops voiced deep concern over the increased social costs that will come with more gambling if Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to legalize commercial casinos is approved.
In a statement released Sunday, the Bishops said the constitutional referendum facing voters on Nov. 5 is “an important matter affecting our communities.” The Bishops said in recent years the state has “dramatically increased access to legalized gambling in an effort to raise revenue,” including multi-state lotteries and creating several video lottery terminal facilities.
But those benefits come with social and economic costs. “Even if the state does realize economic benefits envisioned by our elected officials, we voters must also consider the potential for negative consequences,” the statement said.
Tags: Andrew Cuomo, casinos, gambling, Roman Catholic Bishops, social costs, Timothy Dolan
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is confident the casino referendum will pass – despite the state’s lack of independent study, debate or public hearing. But not everyone thinks more gambling is a good idea. A number of thought leaders have chimed in with powerful pieces, sparked in part by the recent report titled “Why Casinos Matter” that was published by the Institute for American Values, which sponsors this blog.
New York Times columnist Michael Powell wrote a compelling column where he interviewed a gambler who thinks more casinos is a mistake. “It’s a losing deal, casinos,” electrician Stu Litwin told Powell. “I’ll be honest, I should have my head examined for coming here. You really don’t want the whole city doing this.”
Powell found Litwin at the Resort World Casino at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, which he said “looks like an airport departure lounge mated with a pinball machine.” He also likened the Cuomo camp’s rosy wording of the casino referendum promising jobs, lower property taxes and school funding as “Leonid Brezhnev Triumphal Style.”
CNN contributor David Frum chimed in with a column titled “The Harm that Casinos Do.” Frum wrote: “The impact of casinos on local property values is “unambiguously” negative, according to the National Association of Realtors. Casinos do not revive local economies. They act as parasites upon them. Communities located within 10 miles of a casino exhibit double the rate of problem gambling. Unsurprisingly, such communities also suffer higher rates of home foreclosure and other forms of economic distress and domestic violence.”
IAV President David Blankenhorn and former Rochester Mayor William Johnson also wrote an op-ed in the Albany Times Union that argues how casinos contribute to the gap inequality. “While casinos do not create wealth, they redistribute it, overwhelmingly from the have-nots to the haves. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other casino advocates often use terms such as ‘destination gaming resorts’ to describe them, but the label is highly misleading. Anyone who has actually visited America’s regional casinos knows that they are quite different from Vegas-style resort casinos.”
Cuomo and other casino supporters have avoided public discussion on the well-documented economic and social ills that come with casinos. As such, many voters are not well informed about casinos. But many thought leaders who have taken the time to examine the issue understand that casinos do more harm than good.
Tags: casinos, CNN, David Blankenhorn, David Frum, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Institute for American Values, Michael Powell, New York, New York Times