Archive for the tag 'casino'



A State Supreme Court judge struck down a suit that sought to change the language on an upcoming November ballot measure expanding legalized gambling in New York. The New York Times is reporting that Judge Richard Platkin ruled that the case was “lacking in legal merit.”

Earlier in the month, we reported that the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) joined the legal fight to block the ballot. The fight was spearheaded by Brooklyn-based bankruptcy lawyer Eric Synder. Synder, NYPIRG and other groups had argued that the language surrounding the casino ballot measure was biased, presenting the issue as a no-brainer for voters, promising jobs and economic growth. The Times explained why Judge Platkin ruled against Synder:

In dismissing the case, though, Justice Platkin said Mr. Snyder’s suit, filed on Oct. 1, had come after the statute of limitations for such ballot-language challenges had passed. (Such challenges are limited to a 14-day window after a referendum’s final day to be certified; this year, that deadline was Aug. 19.)

And while Mr. Snyder had argued that he was not aware of the language at that point, and that the Board of Elections did not post the referendum to its Web site until Aug. 23, Justice Platkin seemed unimpressed. “The petition/complaint would still be untimely,” he wrote in his decision.

While the Times reported that Synder was planning to continue his legal battle, Politics on the Hudson reported that Synder is now giving up his fight.

“Unfortunately, I just don’t think the timing is there,” Synder said in a radio interview.

With the ballot language now in place, voters will be presented with a rosy, one-sided pro-gambling message. As we previously reported, a Siena College poll found that support for the ballot increased nine percentage points when shown the controversial language.

Again, it is worth noting that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s campaign has received $361,000 from powerful gambling interests from 2011 to July of 2013 and that politicians in Albany took in over $1 million from the same groups in that time.

Source: Jamie Adams via Wikimedia Commons

Source: Jamie Adams via Wikimedia Commons

The New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) is joining the legal battle to get the flowery pro-casino language on an upcoming November ballot changed. The New York Post is reporting that NYPIRG filed a brief arguing that the language on the ballot should be presented in a neutral light.

When we last reported on the upcoming ballot that would expand legalized gambling in the state of New York and call for the construction of seven Las Vegas-style casinos, we pointed to a study conducted by the Institute for American Values that found that legalizing gambling does more economic harm than good. This report directly contrasts the language that is slated to be presented with the ballot, which describes the casino referendum as an economic slam dunk for the state, schools and job creation. We also reported that politicians in Albany and Governor Andrew Cuomo had received hundreds of thousands of dollars from powerful gambling interests for their campaigns.

The spin-laden language was unveiled in September, asking voters if they would permit casinos for the “purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated.” No one has taken credit for crafting the language, and no one in a leadership position has attempted to change it. Early polling comparing this language to a more neutral one shows that a majority of voters support the amendment when written in this language, but not the more neutral version.

The Post described the specific nature of NYPIRG’s complaints about the casino measure:

In a brief for the court, the New York Public Interest Research Group said the final language of the Nov. 5 ballot issue to allow casinos off Indian land should be neutral so that voters can make a decision based on facts, as set out in the state constitution.

Cuomo and legislative leaders added glowing language to the referendum, promising jobs, tax breaks and more school aid, all of which are disputed by some academics and critics. NYPIRG notes in its brief that none of the potential drawbacks from casinos, like crime and gambling addiction, is mentioned.

NYPIRG’s opposition to the referendum language is joined by other groups including the Coalition Against Casino Gambling in New York. Director Stephen Shafer told the Post that benefits promised by the language in the legislation were bogus.

“The rosy language of the reworded amendment for the ballot is a brazen effort to bias the vote. This was a disgrace,” Shafer said.

Source: Rob Bourdon via Flickr

Source: Rob Bourdon via Flickr

The effort to pass a measure that would expand legalized gambling in New York State and see the construction of seven casinos is receiving a huge push from legislators and lobbyists. Despite the momentum, opponents of the measure continue to uncover new data suggesting the bill might not bring the economic boon promised and that politicians have already enriched their campaigns in fast-tracking the legislation from major gambling interests.

Earlier in the month, we reported that the casino ballot measure had majority support among voters, especially after the bill was presented to voters in glowing language that made the legislation seem like a no-brainer. The language surrounding the measure promises job growth, lower taxes and aid to schools. Times Union is reporting on a study put out by the Institute for American Values that notes that expanded access to slot machines would drastically increase gambling addiction:

Modern slot machines “engineer the psychological experience of being in the ‘zone’ — a trancelike state that numbs feeling and blots out time/space. For some heavy slot players, the goal is not winning money,” the study said.

Casinos depend on problem gamblers for their revenue base, drawing 40 to 60 percent of slot machine revenues from these people, many of whom are low rollers.

Living near a casino or working at a casino increases the chance of becoming problem gambler. Those who live within 10 miles of a casino are twice as likely to be a problem gambler than those who do not.

Problem gambling is more widespread than many casino industry leaders claim. The problem gamblers frequently go to a casino, and their lives and livelihoods may be adversely affected by their betting. They are not necessarily the heavy gamblers who are pathological and who suffer from increasing preoccupations to gamble and a loss of control.

The study also indicated the potential economic harm that increased access to legalized gambling would have on the state:

The benefits of casinos are short-term and easy to measure, but many costs pop up during the longer term that are harder to quantify. Economic stimulus fades after the casino becomes a dominant business that drives out established local businesses, such as restaurants, replacing them with pawnshops, auto title lenders and check-cashing stores. And since problem gambling develops over four to seven years, the stress on families and finances may gradually become apparent.

Geoff Freeman, the president of the American Gaming Association (AGA), a powerful gambling lobbying group, refutes the studies undertaken by the Institute for American Values:

“They believe their values are better than others. They’re trying to throw the baby out with the bath water,” Freeman told Times Union…

The American Gaming Association’s Freeman said the institute’s conclusions are based on tired arguments and inaccuracies. He said many communities benefit markedly from casinos, such as Bethlehem, Pa., Kansas City, Mo. and French Lick, Ind. He said he had not read Schull’s book on slot machine engineering, but that all technology has evolved. He said just 1 percent of the population have pathological addictions and that the other 99 percent should have the “entertainment they desire.” The AGA’s research points to 2 percent to 3 percent of the adult population having gambling problems.

Freeman was not able to estimate how much of the revenues of casinos come from problem gamblers. It would be in the billions, based on the institute’s estimates. In 2012 nationwide, tribal casinos collected $27.9 billion and commercial casinos accounted for $38.3 billion.

While it isn’t known for certain as to how much of a boon legalized gambling will be for the state, it is known how much money legislators have scored from gambling interests. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Governor Andrew Cuomo and politicians in the New York State Senate and Assembly have seen lots of cash flow into their campaign coffers from the gambling lobby. From 2011 to July of 2013, Cuomo has received $361,000 while the Legislature has taken in over $1 million in that time frame.

Common Cause, who conducted that study, noted that the law enacting the referendum had once prohibited politicians from receiving campaign contributions from the gambling lobby but that law was killed in closed-door talks.

Source: Rob Bourdon via Flickr

Source: Rob Bourdon via Flickr

A majority of New Yorkers indicated that they would support the upcoming ballot measure that would allow for the development of seven casinos. The New York Times is reporting that the poll, conducted by Siena College, found that responders were influenced by the loaded political language crafted onto the measure.

Earlier in the month, we reported that the language present in the referendum was written in exceedingly glowing terms, promising job growth and lower taxes:

“The proposed amendment to section 9 of article 1 of the Constitution would allow the Legislature to authorize up to seven casinos in New York State for the legislated purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated. Shall the amendment be approved?”

When presented with this question posed on the ballot, people polled responded favorably as 55 percent said they would support it. The Times described the importance of the wording in the analysis of the numbers:

The poll suggested that the wording of the question is significant. When voters were asked the question in a different way, without a list of casino development’s intended purposes, they were evenly divided.

The numbers also presented contrasting findings of people thinking that building casinos would both be a positive and a negative:

The poll found that voters agree with arguments both in favor of and against expanding casino gambling.

Seventy-four percent agreed that allowing the development of casinos would create thousands of jobs, and 65 percent agreed that more casinos would generate significant new revenue for the state and for local governments.

At the same time, 57 percent agreed that the state already has enough outlets for gambling and did not need more casinos. And 55 percent agreed that developing casinos would only increase societal problems, like crime and compulsive gambling.

As we argued in an editorial, studies reveal that casinos do not guarantee positive economic impact, and that any benefits may be counterbalanced by the destructive effects that gambling addiction has on families, communities and taxpayers. We also questioned why politicians were rushing to push this legislation through, crafting the language surrounding its potential approval as a no-brainer.

Still, it should be noted that 51 percent of the people polled in the survey found that the question itself, as worded, was fair.

Source: Jamie Adams via Wikimedia Commons

Although the legislative calender for 2013 is quickly ending, Governor Andrew Cuomo is still trying to sort out the question of bringing legalized gambling to the state. Times Union is reporting that Cuomo is using the remaining 23 legislative days to strike a deal.

While Cuomo is hard at work in trying to sort through a compromise that would bring three casinos to upstate New York, the governor couldn’t guarantee that it would happen.

“[C]asinos are among the most complicated” Cuomo said referring to the legislative measures left on his agenda.

While the governor is delaying the proposed plan of fully legalizing gambling and bringing seven casinos to the state, he still thinks its possible to approve three gambling meccas in upstate New York, with the first one being built in the Catskills.

The governor said Election Day 2014 might be better-suited to put a proposed referendum to allow for up to seven casinos before voters because this year’s biggest race is New York City’s mayoral contest. Since he is advocating for just three upstate casinos to be built in the near term, metropolitan area voters might not bother to vote on a constitutional amendment to legalize gambling outside the city.

“That’s a major problem,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo’s delaying of a full-blown push for legalized gambling probably reflects the mixed public reaction on the issue. Polls have shown that a slim majority of New Yorkers asked are against the idea of building all of the proposed casinos upstate, meaning they want one in the city. The same poll also pointed to a contradiction in people’s feelings as it showed that a majority also do not want a casino in the city.

You see, it’s complicated.

Source: Jamie Adams via Wikimedia Commons

It appears the New York State budget will be delivered on time for the third year in a row – a noteworthy accomplishment rising out of Albany’s dysfunction. But, in getting it done, legislators have postponed decision-making on some of the more controversial topics, including an amendment on the expansion of casino gambling that could see one established in Coney Island.

City & State reports:

“I have concern with working toward an on-time budget,” Cuomo said. “We’ve had two on-time budgets. This would be the third on-time budget since about 1984. We have a number of issues on the table that are challenging, that are controversial, so we’re working very hard, and it’s going well, but am I concerned? Yes.”

New York State has a $1.6 billion gap in its $135 billion budget for 2013–14. That amount is far smaller than the $10 billion deficit Cuomo had to tackle in his first year in office, but several thorny policy and spending issues remain.

One of the most pressing issues to complete the budget early, as Cuomo and legislative leaders would like, is finding cuts to healthcare spending after the federal government reduces Medicaid payments to the state this year, as well as finding additional funds to send to the New York City school system if teachers win a reversal of a $240 million budget slash resulting from the failed teacher evaluation talks.

As legislators and the governor mull these issues, they’ve been forced to table some of the governor’s ambitious goals until later in the legislative season, including an expansion of legalized gambling, an increase in minimum wage and immigration reform.

The Assembly is full steam ahead on minimum wage – already passing a bill increasing it to $9.00, but Senate Republicans who share leadership in that house are opposed to it.

Concerns about casinos, though, are more bipartisan, with many legislators demanding that any casino legislation moving forward include locations in the language, something Cuomo is against.

According to the Daily News, the timing of casino rollouts is also in question. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver wants not only siting language included, but a provision to spread out the timetable for casino development. The first phase of casino expansion as outlined by Governor Cuomo would see three casinos established upstate, and Silver wants a waiting period of up to five years before a second round of casinos is launched.

“That way, the governor next year doesn’t say, ‘We need a billion dollars, that’s what someone would bid for a Manhattan casino, let’s do one there,’ ” Silver told the Daily News.

“It would also enhance the value of the (first) three, if you give them exclusivity for five years or some period of time,” he added. “It would make the bidding of the three more valuable (for the state) as well, if [potential operators] know they only have two others to compete with and not one in New York City.”

Silver’s Republican counterpart in the Senate, Dean Skelos, said he wants to keep all options on the table.

Daily News is also reporting that the tide is beginning to turn in both houses, as casino lobbyists up their game.

The industry “is starting to put real pressure and offer up big donations to legislators who would go the other way and support a New York City casino,” the source said. “That’s why you’re starting to see a shift in the Legislature.”

The constitutional amendment would only authorize a number of casinos to be permitted. Separate legislation would be needed to spell out the details.

Silver said lawmakers want a say in what regions are eligible for casinos, but that they do not want to get involved in the bidding process, or where specifically a casino would be located within an agreed-upon region.

The budget is due March 31, making resolution of these thornier issues unlikely until later in the legislative session, which ends in June.

Source: Jamie Adams via Wikimedia Commons

As we’ve previously reported, Governor Cuomo has been pushing to legalize gambling statewide in recent months, but efforts to build casinos within the five boroughs has met stiff resistance, according to a report by Crains New York.

A new poll, conducted by the Global Strategy Group and paid for by the massive Malaysian casino corporation Genting, concluded that, while a slim majority of New Yorkers want to expand gambling, support drops as potential locations are put on the table. And, in New York, support drops even more when placed “in your neighborhood.”

We’ve seen this sentiment expressed by local politicians of Southern Brooklyn, many of whom joined the Stop the Coney Island Casino advocacy group.

A slim majority of New Yorkers polled are against the idea of building all of the proposed casinos upstate, meaning they want one in the city. At the same time, they don’t want it, um, in the city:

The poll showed that a majority of voters were opposed to placing all seven casinos outside of New York City (51% to 44%) and to placing three casinos upstate and none in New York City (53% to 41%.) In other words, those proposals fared slightly worse than if the door were left open to a casino in the city, as Mr. Cuomo recently suggested.

The poll shows favorable voter attitudes towards the idea of turning Genting’s Resorts World Casino in southeast Queens into a full-scale casino, and placing the six other casinos outside of New York City. Half of voters support such a proposal, while 44% are opposed. That is the plan that the company’s high-powered lobbyists are pushing in Albany.

The Global Strategy Group also polled the attitudes of likely 2013 Democratic primary voters, some of whom who could potentially base their decisions in the 2013 mayoral race on candidates’ positions on casinos. A solid 56% of city voters opposed building full-scale casinos in New York City, with 60% opposing building one in Queens, 62% did not want one in Brooklyn and 74% objected to one in “your neighborhood.” Among general election voters (who will be the ones voting on a November referendum), 40% supported building a new casino in New York City and 54% were opposed.

Basically, when it comes to bringing a huge glitzy legalized gambling complex to the city, New Yorkers are conflicted. Where do you stand? And will it effect how you vote for mayor?

Source: Jamie Adams via Wikimedia Commons

Borough President Marty Markowitz wants a casino to be built in Coney Island. Now, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver may also be eyeing the People’s Playground for a new casino.

Silver hopes for a location that is a “destination resort area,” according to the New York Daily News. He is also considering Willets Point near Citi Field. Both are preferable, he said, to the Aquaduct.

“[A casino] would bring jobs and revenue to potential locations in New York City, especially Coney Island, which is a natural,” Markowitz said earlier this year.

Though a constitutional amendment to legalize casino gambling and authorize up to seven casinos in New York State has been passed, Governer Cuomo is not expected to decide on locations until next year.

Other officials including Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, have spoken out with some concerns about  bringing gambling to the area.

“While we might be looking at an economic engine that could generate over a billion dollars annually for the state, thousands of new jobs and increased recreational venues for New Yorkers, we are also looking at a substantial increase in problem gambling,” Cymbrowitz said.

Cymbrowitz states that if a casino comes to the area, funding must also go to expansion of treatment prograor gambling addicts.

There is no guarantee just yet as other locations may present a viable alternative, and local leaders would have to agree on the location of the new casino.

In a December 2011 poll, Sheepshead Bites readers indicated strong support for expanding access to casinos in New York State. Just over 38 percent of poll respondents gave an unconditional “Yes” to the question of legalizing gambling, while another 34 percent said yes, but with strict oversight and increased funding for gambling addiction programs. Almost 21 percent said no to legalization or to adding more exceptions, while six percent said no to legalization, but that current allowances should be increased.