A sure bet?

August 16, 2013 10:15 am

Casino supporters are confident New York voters will approve a ballot measure in November to change the state constitution to allow commercial casinos there.

“I can tell you this referendum is going to pass,” said James Featherstonhaugh, president of the New York Gaming Association.

Featherstonhaugh had previously been skeptical the measure would pass. But his new-found confidence apparently stems from internal polling. To help ensure the measure passes, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has decided to place it at the top of the ballot. Such ballot placement is designed to give the casino vote the best passage.

Of course, Cuomo and other casino supporters have done a masterful job to avoid any real debate about the social and economic costs that come from casinos. Instead, they have disingenuously played up benefits from jobs and tourism.

While casinos will generate jobs, Cuomo makes it sound as if the casinos are an employment game-changer. The reality is casinos often employ less than 1,000 people. As such, adding a casino is not much different from adding a big box retail store. The big difference of course is retail customers leave the store with products, while most gamblers leave casinos empty handed.

But many voters have been duped into thinking casinos are some kind of economic panacea.