NY rams through casino bill

July 1, 2013 8:52 am

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York lawmakers used an emergency provision to pass the casino bill that enabled them to dodge the required three days to review such measures, the Associated Press reported.

Of course, there was no emergency. It was just another sleazy maneuver used to ram through the casino bill in order to avoid public debate or scrutiny. From the start, the casino bill was crafted in the dark. Changes were made along the way after numerous closed-door meetings with lawmakers and lobbyists. And of course, after gambling interests spent millions of dollars on campaign contributions.

Cuomo had promised not use to the much-criticized emergency tactic that enabled lawmakers to avoid the required three-day waiting period. The provision is there to give lawmakers time to analyze measures before they vote. Instead, Cuomo and lawmakers decided to use the “message of necessity orders” because the session was coming to an end and they did not want to stay in Albany. (Maybe everyone needed a shower.)

Cuomo said the last-minute changes to the bill were minor and technical and did not change the substance of the measure. Critics didn’t buy that excuse.

“Regardless of the level of significance of the individual changes, the bills as finally approved by the Legislature were not on their desks for three days prior to final approval and are therefore unconstitutional, null and void.” said Robert Schulz, a resident who has sued governments more than 100 times to enforce what he considers violations of the state and U.S. constitutions.

In other words, in voting to amend the state Constitution to legalize casinos, Cuomo and lawmakers violated the Constitution. Then again when it comes lawmakers and gambling, this is pretty much business as usual.

New York casino vote in the dark

December 19, 2012 9:38 am

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made clear that voters will have to decide whether to legalize casinos without knowing where the gambling halls will be located.

Nothing like going to the polls without all of the basic information. If New Yorker are going to vote on a major policy shift – that requires changing the state Constitution – all of the cards should on the table. After all, casinos will have a major impact on residents and communities, considering studies show that where casinos locate there is an increase in crime, bankruptcy, divorce and suicide. Not to mention the added traffic from locals visiting three to five times a week, which is the average at some other convenience casinos that have opened in other states.

Maybe that explains why Cuomo would prefer to treat voters like mushrooms – which are grown in the dark and fed manure. That’s because it is much easier to get gullible voters to change the state Constitution if they don’t think a casino will be in their back yard. Lawmakers will make that key decision in the backroom. Plus, it is much better for Cuomo to dangle all the tax revenue in front of voters without mentioning the money comes from gambling losses and is essentially a regressive tax stripped from the pockets of the voters he needs to support the casinos.

But here is one sure bet: there will not be a casino located anywhere near Cuomo’s house. Same goes for the legislative leaders in Albany.

New York’s renewed casino push

December 18, 2012 9:47 am

Albany lawmakers are planning to resume their stealth push to legalize commercial casino in New York in the coming year.

There has been little discussion or debate surrounding casinos in New York and state lawmakers hope to keep it that way. It’s always better to ram through a major policy change with as little attention as possible. Especially a policy that about half of state residents oppose, polls show. Not to mention, a gambling policy that requires changing the state Constitution and will essentially create a regressive tax.

Call it a poor tax. Because that’s what casinos mainly are at the end of the day. Especially the convenience casinos like the ones Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Albany lawmakers want to add around New York. In other states, such convenience casinos attract mostly poor, elderly, minority and working class residents who tend to come gamble several times a week.

Changing the Constitution in New York requires two votes in Albany and then a referendum that goes before voters. The first vote in Albany sailed through in the dark of night earlier this year with little debate or discussion about the policy implications of such a major expansion of gambling. A second vote will likely take place in early 2013.

Cuomo is pushing casinos as a way to generate more tax revenue for New York. Coincidentally, he never even mentioned casinos when he campaigned for governor but became interested as casinos began spending millions on lobbying. Nor has the state completed an independent cost-benefit analysis that determines the added expense of creating more problem gamblers. They don’t want such a study, and instead will just tout the tax revenue and jobs that comes from casinos.

That’s because other research shows that casinos generate more crime, bankruptcy, divorce and suicide. Casinos also do not generate much new spending, but instead divert spending from other businesses. But the allure of the easy tax money prompts lawmakers to turn a blind eye to the destruction they will enable by allowing more casinos.

Casinos bet big on New York

September 20, 2012 9:06 am

This report by Common Cause may help explain why Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other legislative leaders suddenly want to change the state Constitution in order to allow commercial casinos in New York.

Since 2005, gambling interests have spent nearly $50 million on lobbying and campaign contributions in New York, according to an analysis by Common Cause. Translation: money talks. (Recall that Cuomo never even mentioned legalizing casino when he was running for office. Now it is at the top of his agenda.)

As the casino issue has heated up in the last year, there has been a surge in spending. Gambling interests have spent nearly $4 million on lobbying and more than $700,000 on campaign contributions in the first half of 2012, according to The New York Times.

The spending playbook by the gambling industry is the same one used to legalize casinos in other states. No doubt $50 million is a lot of money to most folks. But consider this: the new slots barn at the Aqueduct racetrack in Queens is raking in more than $50 million in revenue a month. In other words, $50 million to buy up, er influence, some lawmakers is a great return on investment.

Look for the spending in Albany to continue as the gambling interests work hard to upend the Constitution and expand gambling across the state. Of course, opening the doors to more casinos, means lawmakers will enable a policy that strips money from the very residents they are sworn to protect. Indeed, that point gets lost in the river of money gushing into Albany from the casinos interests.

Albany greases the gambling skids

March 27, 2012 1:25 pm

New York voters are more than a year away from getting a chance to decide if the state should legalize commercial casinos, but lawmakers are moving forward with a plan to overhaul the gambling commission.

Nothing like putting the cart before the horse.

Never mind the state’s Constitution prohibits gambling. Never mind the General Assembly voted to change the Constitution late at night with little public debate about the downsides of gambling, let alone an independent cost-benefit analysis of allowing more casinos. Never mind the General Assembly must take a second vote to change the Constitution. Never mind that voters must then approve the Constitutional change, even though the public has no idea where the casinos will be located or any other details for that matter. Never mind the entire process is taking place in secret behind closed doors in Albany. And never mind that the proposed gambling board doesn’t measure up to similar boards in other casino states like New Jersey or Nevada.

Details, details. Lawmakers are obviously confident they will wire, er, work out all the issues. But first things first: overhaul the gambling commission in order to grease the skids for all the changes by consolidating most of the power in the hands of Gov. Cuomo. That way the commission will be in position to ram through all the changes to a public policy designed to strip wealth from citizens, while making it appear like there was the pretense of a process.