What the smart money says about casinos

November 4, 2013 11:34 am

In a hotly contested race like legalizing casinos in New York, it is worth noting what the leading newspaper editorial boards have to say about the issue.

The New York Times makes the most compelling case against casinos.  Interestingly, the New York Post agrees with The Times: It is not often those two papers are on the same page, which is telling. This must be a bad idea on all fronts.

A number of other leading newspapers urge residents to vote no against casinos, including The Albany Times Union, The Syracuse Post-Dispatch and The Watertown Daily Times. Each paper makes a thoughtful and well-reasoned case against casinos.

What is even more compelling are the papers in support of casinos. Those editorials struggle to make the case for casinos and lack common sense and logic. In doing so, the editorials actually underscore why commercial casinos would be bad for the state.

The New York Daily News said casinos are a lousy way for government to raise money and will lead to more addiction, but vote yes anyway. Uh?

The Poughkeepsie Journal called the casino ballot language “one-sided” and said the state played “fast and loose with this issue,” while failing to mention the “legitimate concerns.” Keep in mind, this is an editorial in support of casinos.

Newsday actually praised Cuomo’s crass politics and secret deal-making. But then added this gem as part of its, ah, casino support: “It’s not that there isn’t plenty to oppose in both the gambling expansion and the way it’s been handled. The casinos may not provide as much upstate revitalization as hoped. They would inevitably increase the number of problem gamblers where they are located.”

With casino supporters like this, who needs an informed opposition?

TV ad: Cuomo’s dad dissed casinos

November 1, 2013 9:46 am

A group opposed to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to change the state constitution to legalize commercial casinos launched a TV ad that uses Cuomo’s father to make their case.

In the ad, a narrator recounts what former Gov. Mario Cuomo once said about casinos:

“There is a respectable body of economic thought that holds that casino gambling is actually economically regressive to a state and a community. Casinos are a whole different breed. It changes communities. It does not generate wealth, it just redistributes it.”

The ad then says: “Mario Cuomo didn’t support changing the New York State constitution to allow Las Vegas-style casinos. He knew gambling was a bad bet for New York. Vote with Cuomo. Vote ‘no’ on Proposition 1.” See the ad here.

The Cuomo administration immediately responded by getting Cuomo’s dad to essentially reject his position.

“I made those statements in 1994. A great deal has changed in 20 years,” Mario Cuomo said in a statement. “The New York that I was dealing with was a different place. We didn’t have casinos on every border. Gaming was only in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Today couldn’t be more different . . . New York is surrounded by states that have casino gaming – and casinos are a short drive from anywhere in the state. So New York has to compete with out of state gaming.”

The group that released the ad responded to Mario Cuomo’s comments.

“What hasn’t changed since 1994 is the fact that casino gambling continues to be a form of regressive taxation - and casino gambling ‘changes communities’ for the worse. What also hasn’t changed is that casinos take advantage of those who can least afford it. That’s why everyone from The New York Times to the New York Post, to the head of the Conservative Party to stalwart progressive elected officials like State Senator Liz Krueger, urge a NO vote on Proposal 1,” a spokesman for the Committee Against Proposition 1 said.

Unlike his thoughtful father, Andrew Cuomo made clear that he is now forever “linked” to casino gambling. Despite never mentioning casinos while campaigning for governor, Andrew Cuomo made casinos the cornerstone of his economic agenda just months after getting elected.

As a result, there is a lot riding on the Nov. 5 casino vote for Cuomo. That’s why Cuomo cut a variety of deals with competing gambling interests and rigged the wording on the ballot referendum. Polls showed voters were divided on casinos, but support increased after voters saw the rigged language on the referendum.

Fred Dicker of the New York Post wrote recently that Cuomo was worried about losing the casino vote, feeling that his “personal prestige” was on the line.

Note to Andrew Cuomo: There is nothing prestigious about pushing a regressive business that does not produce anything; does not generate new spending; takes advantage of vulnerable citizens; has a corrupting influence of government and gets a third or more of its revenue from repeat and problem gamblers.

There was a time when a smart governor named Mario Cuomo knew that.

New York Post: No to Casinos

October 29, 2013 4:12 pm

It is rare the editorial boards at The New York Times and The New York Post agree on anything, let alone a major public policy issue. But within the past few days, both the Times and Post have come out against changing the state constitution to legalize casinos in New York.

The Post editorial board said the proposal to change the state constitution to allow casinos was a “bad bet for many reasons.” The Post pointed to the rigged language on the ballot that claims several dubious benefits without mentioning the costs. The Post rightly said casinos are a regressive tax on the poor and pointed to the lack of economic benefits from gambling.

“If the governor wants to revitalize New York, let’s not do it by taxing those who can least afford it. Let’s do it the old-fashioned way: by building an economy that encourages thrift, investment and enterprise,” The Post said. Read the full editorial here: http://nypost.com/2013/10/29/the-casino-cuomo/

Meanwhile, The Times also urged voters to reject the casino measure that is on the Nov. 5 ballot. The Times cited many of the same reasons as the Post. Read the full editorial here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/25/opinion/no-to-more-casinos-in-new-york-state.html?_r=0&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1383098418-ux2qc7InbhAAjXsjrAeqMw

The fact that both papers – with such differing political views on many issues – agree that casinos are bad for New York speaks volumes about how misguided the effort is to change the constitution in order to enable more residents to gamble.

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.

The Gray Lady is no fan of casinos

January 5, 2012 11:56 am

The New York Times clearly was not wowed by Gov. Cuomo’s call to legalize casinos. The Times’ editorial board signaled that casinos are a bad economic development policy.

“We are concerned about his plan to bolster state finances and create jobs with a lot more gambling,” the editorial said. “[Cuomo] said on Wednesday that he will pursue a constitutional amendment that would allow gambling throughout the state and not just in the five casinos run by American Indians and the locations with “electronic gaming machines.” There’s little evidence that casinos, which carry high social costs, will create good, high-wage jobs.”

Building casinos will generate construction jobs in the short term. The casinos hire workers but the wages for most of the jobs tend to be low wage. Granted a job is a job for many who are suffering. The bigger problem is that there is little to no economic spin-off from casinos, which do a great job of keeping gamblers on site by offering free buffets, free drinks and live entertainment. In fact, many other area retail and entertainment businesses suffer from a loss of customers, who spend their money gambling, eating and shopping in the casino.