New Yorkers split on casinos

April 11, 2012 11:39 am

A new poll shows New York residents are evenly divided regarding Gov. Cuomo’s plan to change the state Constitution in order to legalize commercial casinos.

Just think what the poll would look like if New Yorkers were fully informed about the negative economic and social impact of more gambling. The media in general does a pretty lousy and lazy job of covering this issue, and is often content to just regurgitate whatever elected officials and the gambling industry says.

There’s no doubt the casinos will create jobs and generate tax revenue. But there’s lots of independent data that shows the economic and social costs outweigh those benefits. In addition to those costs, the gambling industry has been shown to have a corrupting influence on elected officials. Not to mention, gambling revenues are an unsustainable and unpredictable way to fund the government.

More to the point, the casinos and the government only do well if citizens are losing money. Common sense would indicate that is a bad public policy. If the public was better informed on this issue, Cuomo and other elected officials would not even think about getting into the gambling racket.


Michigan has had enough of casinos

March 20, 2012 2:30 pm

A number of states are just getting into casino gambling, but in Michigan a poll found that residents there are tapped out.

The poll found 60 percent are opposed to more casinos. Another 26 percent said there are already too many casinos. Just 12 percent in the poll want more casinos in the state. Disclaimer: the poll was conducted for a coalition of Michigan casino operators opposed to plans to add as many as 22 more casinos. So take the results with a grain of salt.

But the interesting takeaway is how many residents have had a chance to experience casinos and realize they do more harm than good. That’s a big shift from almost 20 years ago when casinos were being touted as a way to help revitalize Detroit.

That has not panned out too well: Detroit is now facing bankruptcy.

It is hard to see how adding more casinos will help Detroit. Instead, the city needs to reduce its costs and find more sustainable ways to generate tax revenue. Stripping wealth from residents hoping to get lucky at a casino is not a viable form of economic development. The casino experience in Detroit and across Michigan is something other states should consider before heading down the same wrongheaded path.

Casino support slips in New York

March 7, 2012 11:58 am

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to change the state Constitution to legalize commercial casinos is losing public support and hurting the governor’s approval rating, a new poll says.

Just last month, 52 percent of New Yorkers polled were in favor of commercial casinos and 44 percent were opposed. Now, support for the casino has slipped to 49 percent, while opposition has increased to 48 percent, according to a Siena College poll.

At the same time, Cuomo’s approval rating has also dropped from 74 percent to 69 percent, the poll found. To be sure, the decline in support for casinos is not huge, but it is a telling drop considering the proposal was just floated in January. No doubt Cuomo remains popular. But New Yorkers clearly don’t seem crazy about Cuomo’s plan to turn New York into the next Las Vegas. Many voters realize that casinos come with social and economic costs that outweigh the tax benefits to the state. (Free plug department: See my op-ed in The New York Times for some of the reasons why casinos in New York are a bad idea.)

Interestingly, Cuomo’s father, former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, opposed casinos. And he was considered one of the more thoughtful elected officials that have come along in recent times. It will be interesting to see if Andrew Cuomo really wants his legacy to be that he was the Empire State’s godfather of gambling.