TV ad: Cuomo’s dad dissed casinos

November 1, 2013 9:46 am

A group opposed to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to change the state constitution to legalize commercial casinos launched a TV ad that uses Cuomo’s father to make their case.

In the ad, a narrator recounts what former Gov. Mario Cuomo once said about casinos:

“There is a respectable body of economic thought that holds that casino gambling is actually economically regressive to a state and a community. Casinos are a whole different breed. It changes communities. It does not generate wealth, it just redistributes it.”

The ad then says: “Mario Cuomo didn’t support changing the New York State constitution to allow Las Vegas-style casinos. He knew gambling was a bad bet for New York. Vote with Cuomo. Vote ‘no’ on Proposition 1.” See the ad here.

The Cuomo administration immediately responded by getting Cuomo’s dad to essentially reject his position.

“I made those statements in 1994. A great deal has changed in 20 years,” Mario Cuomo said in a statement. “The New York that I was dealing with was a different place. We didn’t have casinos on every border. Gaming was only in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Today couldn’t be more different . . . New York is surrounded by states that have casino gaming – and casinos are a short drive from anywhere in the state. So New York has to compete with out of state gaming.”

The group that released the ad responded to Mario Cuomo’s comments.

“What hasn’t changed since 1994 is the fact that casino gambling continues to be a form of regressive taxation - and casino gambling ‘changes communities’ for the worse. What also hasn’t changed is that casinos take advantage of those who can least afford it. That’s why everyone from The New York Times to the New York Post, to the head of the Conservative Party to stalwart progressive elected officials like State Senator Liz Krueger, urge a NO vote on Proposal 1,” a spokesman for the Committee Against Proposition 1 said.

Unlike his thoughtful father, Andrew Cuomo made clear that he is now forever “linked” to casino gambling. Despite never mentioning casinos while campaigning for governor, Andrew Cuomo made casinos the cornerstone of his economic agenda just months after getting elected.

As a result, there is a lot riding on the Nov. 5 casino vote for Cuomo. That’s why Cuomo cut a variety of deals with competing gambling interests and rigged the wording on the ballot referendum. Polls showed voters were divided on casinos, but support increased after voters saw the rigged language on the referendum.

Fred Dicker of the New York Post wrote recently that Cuomo was worried about losing the casino vote, feeling that his “personal prestige” was on the line.

Note to Andrew Cuomo: There is nothing prestigious about pushing a regressive business that does not produce anything; does not generate new spending; takes advantage of vulnerable citizens; has a corrupting influence of government and gets a third or more of its revenue from repeat and problem gamblers.

There was a time when a smart governor named Mario Cuomo knew that.

Cuomo to go slow on casinos?

December 16, 2011 3:00 pm

Gov. Andrew Cuomo does not seem to be in a rush to legalize casinos, though he does seem confident he will be able to lead the effort to undo the state Constitution, which prohibits gambling. Changing the state Constitution is no small matter, but Cuomo seems to think that is more a pro forma event that could be completed in a year. There are good reasons why the Empire State’s forefathers banned gambling.

In an interview with influential New York Post columnist Fred Dicker, Cuomo skips over that and says casinos could be legalized before the end of his first term. Cuomo does seem to indicate that he knows gambling is a bad economic policy, but he also seems intent on following other states down the flawed path of legalizing casinos.

“In a perfect world, would there be gaming anywhere? Maybe not, but this is not a perfect world and we’re in competition, so all the signs have been positive, but you know, we’ll see next year,” he said. ”My thought for this year would be, let’s do our homework, and let’s talk about it, and let’s start to work on it, and let’s put together intelligent committees and do a real study for this year.”

Let’s hope Cuomo follows through on completing a “real study” that examines the pros and cons of casinos, and doesn’t just tout the tax revenue and jobs. Most state studies ignore the social and economic costs of casinos because the reality is the costs of casinos outweigh the benefits. Any study should be independent and weigh all the costs.