This is the second of a three part series titled: “The good, bad and the ugly.”

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The bad: In the background of a radio commercial in support of Gov. Cuomo’s plan to support full-scale casino gambling, a vacuum roars. Then comes’ a women’s voice. “You hear that? “It’s the sound of money and jobs being sucked right out of our state, with New Yorkers going to Connecticut and Atlantic City to gamble.”

Preface: Currently, the New York State Constitution’s general prohibition against gambling provides that there be “no lottery or the sale of lottery tickets, pool-selling, book-making, or any other kind of gambling in the state.” Three exceptions apply:

  1. Lotteries to support education.
  2. Horse racing and
  3. Games of chance sponsored by charitable and non-profit organizations.

Clearly, the state’s constitutional gambling prohibition was not the least bit prohibitory with hundreds of options now available anytime, anywhere. Four “Jackpot Games” are well promoted, as are five daily games and dozens of scratch off games. “Hey, You Never Know.”

Facility wise, five Indian-run casinos operate Upstate and over 29,000 Video Lottery Terminals (wired slot machines) are now in use in nine racetrack “racinos” to further entice betters. Using a report recently issued by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, excluding casinos, gambling revenues totaled some $2.2 billion in FY 2010, more than any state in the Nation.

Enough is enough!  Rather than reduce spending to a realistic and affordable level the legislature passed this year a constitutional amendment to allow seven new casinos to be built in the state. One key component of that plan, to allow a Malaysian gambling company to build a casino at the Aqueduct racetrack in Queens, recently fell apart for a variety of reasons.

As mentioned I consider the constitutional amendment plan a bad idea.

1. Gambling, in my opinion (while entertaining) is socially pernicious and should never be considered a relatively “painless” revenue source. The governor’s argument that everyone else is doing it (let’s grab our share) is hardly justifiable.

2. Gambling should never be considered a major economic engine for the New York State. It’s a business model fraught with uncertainties as is evident in Atlantic City and more recently at Foxwoods in Connecticut which is also on the verge of bankruptcy. Last but not least.

3. Of the $2.2 billion collected from Lottery sales, only 35% went to support education in New York State. We’re chasing rainbows. Do you agree?

My next column cover’s Underfunded Pension Obligations


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