New York casinos not a done deal?

December 30, 2011 9:41 am

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) said he is not sure that lawmakers will vote to change the constitution to legalize casino gambling in New York.

Hopefully, Silver isn’t just posturing and really means that lawmakers will weigh the pros and cons before taking the major step of changing the state constitution. If there is a real debate about the economic and social costs of gambling, lawmakers would understand that casinos are a bad bet. Sorry to be skeptical, but usually these casino deals are wrapped up in the back room of state houses.

The argument that other states have legalized casinos is hardly a compelling one. Same goes with the argument that casinos are the way to create jobs. Yes, there are casinos jobs but most of them are low wage. And the costs that comes from casinos is not worth adding a few low wage jobs. There are much better ways grow jobs than getting taxpayers to dump their hard-earned money in slot machines.

Casino supporters, including Gov. Cuomo, should produce the independent economic evidence – not studies funded by the gambling industry - that shows casinos are really a net benefit for the state and not just a way for the state to line its coffers.

Bloomberg’s gambling position makes no sense

December 29, 2011 1:33 pm

Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t like gambling and he knows it is regressive and hurts communities, but he is willing to stand by while Gov. Cuomo moves to legalize casinos in New York City.

That makes no sense, but that’s Bloomberg’s screwy position. Essentially he was against casinos begore he was for allowing them. Somewhere Al Gore is smiling.

We pointed out in a blog post yesterday how Bloomberg’s gambling stance contradicts his recent comments and past position. As The Wall Street Journal points out today, Bloomberg’s position on gambling is nearly as nuanced as the rules of baccarat.

Foxboro selectmen say no to casinos

December 29, 2011 1:25 pm

Few elected officials have the smarts or backbone to stand up to the spread of the casino cancer. That’s why kudos are in order for the Foxboro selectmen for rejecting a casino in their Massachusetts town.

Usually Big Gambling wins and the taxpayers lose. But Foxboro’s elected officials were not impressed with idea of Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn bringing a casino to their rural town. The move shows that many residents in Massachusetts are not excited by the backroom legalization of casinos that was hatched by Gov. Deval Patrick and state House and Senate leaders.

What comes next in Massachusetts is uncertain. Will other towns and lawmakers become emboldened and stand up to the casino interests and all of the social and economic ills that come with gambling?

The Justice Department’s online casino flip flop

December 29, 2011 9:14 am

While much of the country was busy getting ready for the holidays last Friday, the Justice Department quietly released a legal opinion that reverses its longstanding opposition to Internet gambling. The ruling was written in September but released on the Friday before Christmas Eve.

The ruling will open the door for an explosion of online casinos across the country, which will likely lead to an increase in problem gamblers. The access to online gambling will likely lead to even younger and younger problem gamblers. We did a blog post on this the other day. Here is a column that appeared today in that was written by the editor of this blog.

UPDATE: Just came across this piece that proclaims 2012 will be the Year of the Gambler, thanks to the ruling by the Justice Department.

Bloomberg rolls over on casinos

December 28, 2011 11:04 am

Looks like Mayor Bloomberg is going to roll over and allow the casino cancer to spread to New York City without a fight. The mayor tends to be a strong leader on public health issues but he is willing to look the other way when it comes to the social ills that come with casinos.

Bloomberg just wants to make sure that any plan that Gov. Cuomo comes up with guarantees some of the gambling proceeds come to the city. What kind of leader is that? Bloomberg seems willing to give up any role or input involving changing the state constitution to allow casinos as long Cuomo shows him some money. How lame.

It’s especially disappointing since just a few months ago Bloomberg seemed to understand that casinos were not all the were cracked up to be: “I’ve never liked gambling,” Bloomberg said then. “I think it’s regressive, and  history shows it really doesn’t do much for the neighborhoods around it… . I  also think that at some point, you’re going to saturate the market.”

When it comes to taking on casinos, Bloomberg is no Fiorello LaGuardia.

Cuomo sheds more light on casino push

December 26, 2011 2:22 pm

Gov. Cuomo continued his “soft opening” campaign to legalize casino in New York by telling the Daily News that he would support a casino in the Big Apple.

“Like Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Cuomo said he doesn’t  want to see a casino in a densely populated part of the city, but would be open  to putting one at a place like Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, which already has a  virtual casino,” according to the Daily News.

Does a densely populated area mean Manhattan? If so, why not? Casinos are a bad idea anywhere, but it would seem that a densely populated area like Manhattan would be the best location if Cuomo and others were serious about a casino that draws tourists and maximizes revenue. Perhaps what Cuomo and Silver are really saying is that a casino is fine in out-of-sigh and out-of-mind locations, like working class neighborhoods, but not in Manhattan where the more powerful elites live.

“I’m not excluding any locations at this time,” he told the Daily News,  adding that establishing a casino in a part of the city “certainly can” make  sense because the operation would capitalize on the massive population. “New York City is a real location. Albany is a  real location. Buffalo is a real location.”

The Daily News said Cuomo is expected to call on the Legislature in his Jan. 4  State of the State address to give the first of two needed votes to a state  constitutional amendment to legalize casino gambling in the state.

Justice Department buries gambling news

December 26, 2011 11:32 am

It’s clear to see the Justice Department isn’t proud of its decision to reverse its opposition to Internet gambling.

The department released a legal opinion that upends its opposition to Internet gambling on Friday while most of the country was busy getting ready for the holidays.

Even more amazing, the legal opinion was issued by its legal counsel in September but not made public until just before Christmas.

Media 101 says bury bad news around the holidays. That’s exactly what the Justice Department did with its wrongheaded decision to open the door for more gambling across the country. Look for states and others to move quickly to get in on the lucrative Internet gambling opportunities, which will lead to easier access and more problem gamblers.

Nevada gets ready for Internet gambling

December 23, 2011 10:45 am

Nevada gambling regulators are moving to legalize Internet gambling across the state, a development that may trigger similar efforts in other casino states.

The measure would allow Internet poker just to Nevada residents only. But as The Wall Street Journal reports, the move is “designed to position the state to move quickly to become the center of a lucrative new sector of the gambling industry should Congress pass one of several laws overturning the ban on Internet wagering, making the state the de-facto national licensing body.”

Internet gambling at the federal level would be a game-changing event that would expand the reach of gambling to every home and mobile phone in the country. The move could lead to a sharp rise in problem gambling as people dig themselves deeper into the debt in the quiet of their home. This would be a very short-sighted change in public policy.

Florida casino bill loses momentum

December 23, 2011 9:04 am

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he didn’t think a casino bill would pass the state legislature in 2012. The state is concered about how efforts to legalize commercial casino would impact revenue flowing from Indian casinos. The measure has also run into opposition from powerful groups, including the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Disney.

Doubts are also being raised as to whether Florida can become the next Las Vegas and if the casinos will provided the promised economic benefits. There will be jobs, but many do not pay very well. Those benefits need to be weighed against the economic and social costs.

To be sure, casinos mainly redistribute spending away from other existing businesses – and create thousands of losers along the way. In fact, the casinos are a regressive tax that preys mainly on the poor, elderly and minorities who can least afford it. Gambling also leads to an increase in social costs, including crime, bankruptcy, divorce and suicide. Taxpayers who don’t gamble are left to pick up the prison and court costs and other bills from the downsides of gambling. In the end, it is hard to see how the benefits of casinos outweigh the total costs.

Casino trends for 2012

December 22, 2011 11:15 am

The casino industry doesn’t like to divulge much about what it is up to, but this report from a high-profile gambling firm offers some insights into what is coming. Some of it requires reading between the lines to fill in the real impact, but other parts are more straightforward especially when it comes to pushing government leaders to do the casino industry’s bidding.

For example Penn National expects gaming operators will exert pressure to lower tax rates in high-tax markets to better compete against neighboring states. That means less money in state coffers – a big reason casinos were legalized in the first place.

Efforts to legalize casinos will continue in ”casino-reluctant states” such as Kentucky, New Hampshire and Texas. Efforts to add casinos will heat up in major states where gaming is limited, such as in Florida, Illinois and New York. Translation: casinos will continue to spread across the country and operators will lobby states to lower their take from gambling addicts and suckers, er, patrons who enjoy the gaming experience.

Other trends include a push by casino operators to open new locations oversees in an effort to maintain growth. Increased competition in Las Vegas. There will be a big push to pressure the government to allow sports betting across the country. More states will privatize lotteries in an effort to grow that addictive and predatory business.Look for more smaller convenience casinos and Internet cafes to open. Casino operators don’t want to build lavish and costly casinos when a small, local, cheesy gambling hall will do the trick. Of course, the other big game-changing trend will be efforts to push Internet gambling.

In a nutshell: the gambling industry is on a roll and look for more casinos coming to a town near you. Of course, there is no mention about the economic and social costs of turning the country into one big rolling craps game.