Crapping Out In New York: The Growing Unease

Reassuring patterns have begun to emerge during outreach with voters. They appreciate receiving information Gov. Cuomo and casino interests aren't providing to them. They understand the casino question to appear before them on the Nov. 5 ballot isn't about gambling versus no gambling in NYS. And they understand the importance of remaining grounded to common-sense. All of this provides a solid basis for voting NO on Proposal 1, NO to commercial casinos.

Voters know trying to balance their check book doesn't work well if they look at only deposits. They're beginning to see through casino hype that avoids a serious consideration of taxpayer costs.

They're troubled by casino profits depending so heavily on people with gambling disorders -- and on the taxpaying public to pay much of the costs related to those disorders. Their concern with the hidden aspect of this public subsidy, as much as the subsidy itself, is compounded by the realization that any casino in upstate NY would surely require further public assistance, through reduced property and other taxes, to compete with casinos in and around NYC. This mixed message, between casino promoters and reality, is unmistakable. If casinos will be so beneficial, why then can't they pay their own way?

Yet beyond the hidden nature of these hand-outs voters appear increasingly concerned with the innocent lives damaged by each problem gambler. They seem troubled and confused about why Mr. Cuomo would promote a plan that relies on New Yorkers being expendable.

That confusion deepens with the realization that casinos would draw more heavily from local communities than promoters would have them believe. How else could this be, particularly for upstate casinos that would face fierce competition from ones in NYC?

The story behind asking voters to allow commercial casinos is then really one of omission, in order to secure voters' permission: to take advantage of them as taxpayers footing the bills; to sign off on innocent lives damaged by each problem gambler; and to endorse more state-sponsored problem gambling. And it's of course a story about JOBS, and how people looking for work upstate have become pawns for those pursuing casinos. So it's a story about Governor Cuomo, blurring the line between intelligent politics and deception, in order to get his way.

Allowing commercial casinos would be bad public policy because they aren't likely to pay for themselves, and they require exploiting vulnerable New Yorkers. The existence of other forms of state sponsored gambling doesn't change this. If Gov. Cuomo yearns for a more consistent and defensible state gambling policy, he should lead in a direction of limiting, not expanding, our state's sponsorship of gambling.

Vote NO on Proposal 1.

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