Debating New York's Gambling Ballot Question

Monday, November 04, 2013

LAS VEGAS - SEPTEMBER 17: The facade of a Casino is seen at night on Las Vegas Boulevard on September 17 in Las Vegas. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty)

The most high-profile question on Tuesday's New York ballot would amend the constitution to allow for full-fledged casino gaming in up to seven locations throughout the state. David Blankenhorn, founder and president of the Institute for American Values, opposes the measure. Keith L.T. Wright, New York State assembly member representing central and west Harlem and co-chair of the Democratic Party, supports it.

How the Question is Framed on the Ballot

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 purpose of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated. Shall the amendment be approved?


David Blankenhorn and Keith L.T. Wright

Comments [56]

APH from Brooklyn

Why is it OK for people to spend hundreds on lottery tickets? Why is it OK for families to spends hundreds at Disney World? Or on arcade games at Coney Island or Atlantic City? Or taking the whole family to a 3-D movie?

As someone who has enjoyed casinos responsibly for 20 years, I would rather spend $100 playing cards in a casino for a few hours than spend money on 3-D movies or video games or lottery tickets, which don't provide any enjoyment to me.

If casinos contribute nothing of value, what does Disney World contribute? It's the same scenario--you spend a lot of money to do something you find enjoyable. When you leave Disney World, what do you have to show for all you spent there except some overpriced souvenirs? There are plenty of people addicted to Disney, as well--people who travel there several times a year and spend ridiculous amounts of money on it. But Disney, arcades, sports, lottery tickets--these are acceptable types of compulsive spending.

If people may have tendencies toward doing harmful things (in this case, gambling), why is it OK to have sports bars and liquor stores on every corner? Shouldn't we be curtailing these types of businesses? Surely alcoholism is far more dangerous than compulsive gambling. But we allow it with few restrictions, as we do smoking. Would anyone object to a proposal to build new restaurants and bars? Probably not, although drunk driving harms far more people than gambling.

Nov. 05 2013 09:25 AM
Donald J. Sepanek from Bayonne, NJ

Think Brian's guest was a little extreme when he compared gambling casinos to meth labs? Think again:

Nov. 04 2013 06:04 PM
Donald J. Sepanek from Bayonne, NJ

Casino gambling (especially the slots) is a symptom of mathematical ignorance, which teachers are supposed to ward off through math instruction. But what incentive do they have to teach children to know better than to gamble, if their unions support legal casinos?

Nov. 04 2013 05:44 PM
Joan D Firestone from upper west side

A check into the actual dollars supposedly going to education from the current lottery will show that it is only a percentage of the anticipated amounts. There is no guarantee that the expectations for the income from gambling will be different. What has also not been factored in is the cost of building the sites. Most significantly for those of us in the arts community - is that dollars spent in gambling - supposedly discretionary funds - will take away from dollars spent on performing arts. Cities throughout the state have been hosts to successful arts organizations that were forced out of New York City because of rising maintenance costs. Their value to the communities in which they function are economic, educational, and culturally enhancing. The so-called arts within gambling casinos have no relationship to the product delivered by community based arts organizations.

Nov. 04 2013 12:12 PM
Arthur Lehrer from Bayside NY

After working in the Catskills for 14 years, my wife & I have witnessed the economic devastation in that area. To provide an additional perspective to this issue, note the following: 1. There are already 2400 slot machines at Monticello racetrack so gambling "addicts" already have a venue, but without new jobs or re-development in the area. 2. The site of the former Concord hotel is owned by a combine of 2 world class resort developers who have committed $600 million to build a world class destination casino resort complex including: several hotels, an indoor water park, refurbished 18 hole golf course, an entertainment village with a movie theatre and retail mall, a residential village including a mix of condos, town houses, etc., a civic center and an active adult residential community...all of which will, in a small way pave the way to a measure of recovery for the area. The current owner of the once great Nevele hotel will follow-up with redevelopment of its 500 acre site which now includes an 18 hole golf course. Casino gambling wil be a win-win for the area.

Nov. 04 2013 11:54 AM
A from Queens

If the legislature is so interested in improving the lives of people in the Catskills, why are they not encouraging forms of investment and development that are economically and socially healthy, like a tourist industry that respects the local nature and culture? The Catskills have endless natural beauty and many resources and can be very attractive, especially considering the proximity to NYC. I visit the area frequently, and I would be leaving behind more revenue if I had more options for a decent place to stay (instead of cheap, dirty motels or overpriced humid cabins) and to eat (instead of fast food chains or very low quality restaurants). I get great fruits and vegetables delivered to Queens from upstate, whereas when I eat at restaurants upstate I typically leave either hungry or sick. I see wineries and farms around, but it's difficult to find the local products. Casinos will not improve the quality of life in an already problematic area. There might be a number of jobs that might be created but are these jobs that most people dream of for a better life? All the other things that come with it (gambling addiction, prostitution, alcoholism, etc) only make things worse for the locals, especially the youth. And you don't need a scientific study to know that. Take a drive or try to spend a weekend around Monticello with its casino. Or, search for accommodations in the area and see what you'll come up with.

Nov. 04 2013 11:47 AM
Sonali from Harlem

So, Assemblyman Keith Wright supports more casinos in NY because it will bring more jobs and MONEY FOR EDUCATION. Who the heck is he kidding - that's what the LOTTO was supposed to do but Education got ZERO dollars.
Mr. Wright supports it because down the road he will be able to authorize tax abatements to the casino operators when they fail.
Keith Wright - aka: Mr. Tax Abatement.

Nov. 04 2013 11:35 AM
thatgirl from manhattan

Assemblyman Wright avoided answering any questions about the source of his metrics--a sure sign of a snow job, aimed at the unaware. There's no good to come of any of this--it's a giveaway to the gambling industry by a State legislature too stupid and lazy to come up with anything else. Between this and fracking, New York is clearly for sale--and it's selling itself to the lowest, least sustainable bidders.

That Krispy Kreme comment sounds eerily like someone else's spout about "Pancakes!" How many of you kids remember that?

Nov. 04 2013 11:34 AM
GG from Manhattan

Why not start research into connecting gambling with medical and financial monitoring for people that demonstrate a problem for themselves and family ..... sounds like jobs to me... as well as institute laws that do NOT allow someone to gamble away everything they own ... as well as research into virtual (bit coin) gambling

Nov. 04 2013 11:32 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Gambling via casinos (in designated areas) and betting shops (as is the case in England), should be carefully made more available in NYS.

We are not Iran, there are already 10,000 types of lotto tickets, poor people waste their money on. We might as well get jobs and a good buffet out of it.

Coney Island can use a Las Vegas style casino/resort. T

I would love, as a city resident, visit a Cosmopolitan or MGM Grand - Coney Island, for the weekend, to see Cirque Du Soleil show and go to a pool party or spa.

Nov. 04 2013 11:31 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

It’s pathetic that the best New York State can do to create jobs is by having more casino gambling. I can only conclude that New York Sate politicians are completely incompetent. That as mangers of our state they cannot attract real job creating industries to New York. Pathetic.

Nov. 04 2013 11:25 AM
nancy from Manhattan

Shame on Assemblyman Wright - his "infusion of capital" argument is extremely weak. Most listeners are old enough to remember the promises of Atlantic City. Casinos did NOTHING to revitalize the surrounding communities. They brought prostitution and drug dealing to an already struggling community. And to the listener in Ellenville, do not be misled by the promise of "jobs". The only people who will make money are the politicians and contractors. There will be no "infusion of capital" to the surrounding community. The people who board buses from churches and predominantly low income communities, who take "bus trips" to casinos, very often use their retirement or social security funds and receive an "incentive" of a $10 playing credit. Many of these same people even pack their own lunch!
I say VOTE NO to casino gambling in NYS.

Nov. 04 2013 11:24 AM
DickeyFuller from DC

The data presented by the proponent was not supported by any independent research. He was making it up as he went along.

I love guys like that who LOVE to say the word Billion.

I've known so many confidence men who use that trick. It's total BS.

Gambling hurts those who can least afford it. It's just for fools or those who are so wealthy, the losses don't matter.


Nov. 04 2013 11:19 AM
Tom from upper west side

Why didn't you ask the bloviating, direct answer-avoiding assembleyman if he has received donations from pro-casino interests? Would that not be helpful to our being able to evaluate his comments?

Nov. 04 2013 11:19 AM
lk from brooklyn

Has there ever been a government proposal that did not promise 10,000 new jobs? Every one of them has delivered far less while giving huge subsidies to developers for those 10,000 jobs that never appeared.

Please talk about the lobbying of millions that has taken place in support of this proposal of more gambling casinos. How much has the governor received in contributions from this special interest?

What has Keith Wright been promised or received for his support?

The comparison to OTB promises are very valid for which Keith had no answer for. Well thought out only by those who want to own and profit from the casinos.

Nov. 04 2013 11:17 AM
John A

Look again at the "fallen" / alternate reality version of the hometown in "It's a wonderful life". We're almost there!

Nov. 04 2013 11:16 AM
Amy from Manhattan

What would keep mobsters from taking over gambling in NYS, the same way they have in other places?

Nov. 04 2013 11:14 AM
Howard from Bronx

If you saturate the state with casinos, none will make money.

Nov. 04 2013 11:14 AM
Nick from UWS

Fleece the poor people in upstate NY, improve the quality of life of the 1% in Manhattan.

Nov. 04 2013 11:14 AM

Accurate estimates based on what? You have no specifics to offer us, yet you say that these numbers are accurate.

Nov. 04 2013 11:13 AM
Nancy from NYC

I'm voting NO. Part of it is because I don't think the lottery money went to education as promised and partly just because I don't like the (overly-positive) wording of the ballot question. Seems slimy.

Nov. 04 2013 11:13 AM
Ken from NYC

The money spent at Casinos will be money that was once spent on other things. Brian should ask which industries are expected to LOSE REVENUE and LOSE JOBS because of casinos.

Nov. 04 2013 11:11 AM
Nick from UWS

So Keith Wright, does that mean that you would encourage the school system to teach kids to gamble? How the hell can you reconcile "education" with promoting a delusional activity like gambling?

Nov. 04 2013 11:11 AM
Steve from Rockville Centre, NY

They say the money goes to education but in reality it just lets Albany off the hook. The gambling money that goes to education is that much less money that is budgeted to education from the general budget.

Nov. 04 2013 11:11 AM

Thank you caller about education money that only arrives as other education money is taken away. She nailed the problem.

Nov. 04 2013 11:11 AM
John A

Remember that slogan for the schools funding program was "Hey, you{'ll} never know". That what school is all about, isn't it?

Nov. 04 2013 11:10 AM
John from NYC

PLEASE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Can't New York think of a better new industry to build ????????????

Manufacture of subway cars

SOMETHING !!!!!!!!!

Nov. 04 2013 11:09 AM
Amy from Manhattan

There must be better industries to encourage than gambling.

The revenues from the NYS lottery were also supposed to go for education, but instead they're going into the general fund. Why would this be any different?

Nov. 04 2013 11:08 AM
Nick from UWS

"Well, I don't really know about the transparency." I sure bet you don't.

Nov. 04 2013 11:08 AM
GG from Manhattan

Re:JGarbuzz..... Look at the ATTITUDE of this guy.. can you be MORE condescending PLEASE?
You are the one that whines about a class war and then you come out with this really disgusting statement:

"Legalizing drugs and prostitution would create more jobs for POOR people AND produce more revenues!"

No 1: it already provides jobs for rich and middle class people and always has

No 2: RICH and Middle Class people take, use, and sell drugs and also become prostitutes in one form or another including on the streets. I don't need to name names ...

What backward hole does that type of mentality crawl out from ?

Nov. 04 2013 11:08 AM
Dorothy from Manhattan

The only reason I'm voting tomorrow is to vote against casino gambling. Upstate people don't want a lot of NYCers roaming around their neighborhoods. They're going to keep them in the casinos and off the streets.

Free money. That's all the politicians want.

Nov. 04 2013 11:08 AM

the argument that legalizing something because people will do it anyway is being applied to gambling only because of the tax money.

Gambling addiction hurts people and tax money from the casinos should provide for public treatment facilities for the oncoming explosion of gambling addiction.

Nov. 04 2013 11:07 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

1. Gambling is indeed a good way to generate revenue, but it is a passive way. It means the State doesn't have to give out as many moving violation summonses (hard work because you have to sit out in a patrol car and actually catch a speeder).

2. If we are going to have gambling, it should be on state borders so we generate income from out of state.

3. Gambling is bad for poor people, but there are people who are going to gamble whether or not the casinos are in New York State, so we might as well get some of that revenue.

4. If we DO get gambling in this state, there should be a regular rotation of counselors available at each casino to help people with possible gambling addiction issues. We, as a state, cannot dictate whether people can or can't gamble; neither should we profit from others' misfortune; so we have a responsibility to help gamblers who are addicted to gambling.

Nov. 04 2013 11:07 AM
Howard from Bronx

Has anyone thought about the traffic on the NYS Thruway at Harriman? Friday traffic northbound will be stopped at the Major Deegan and Sunday traffic southbound will be backed up to Albany (it sometimes begins at New Paltz, now).

Nov. 04 2013 11:06 AM
Syd UWS from New York City

I cannot believe this guest just compared a casino to a meth lab. WHAT!?!?
It is a choice to go to the casino. rich, poor... its a choice!! Gambling doesnt pray on poor people. Poor, middle class, and rich people have a choice on how they would like to spend their time. Want to play the lottery? want to go bird watching? go for it! Ahocohol has many social issues but its not prohibited. Alchohol production also creates many jobs. Should we eliminate our craft beer industry too? Ridiculous!

Nov. 04 2013 11:06 AM
steve from upper west side

Support the Native Americans -- vote NO for allowing new Casinos!!!

Nov. 04 2013 11:05 AM
carl from queens

My brain wants me to vote for gambling because I quit gambling, and its makes good sense for me to let the sucker gamblers lower my taxes. But my heart knows full well from many experience's the horrific damage gambling does to gamblers and their innocence families. therefore, I will vote no.

Nov. 04 2013 11:05 AM
Jon from NJ

The same citizens who will vote NO on any tax increase and vote out any politician who proposes one will walk happily into a casino and lose a few hundred dollars to the state and call it entertainment.
So while I agree with the argument that there is no economic activity gain from casino activity, the politicians are reacting perfectly rationally by offering this ballot initiative.
It will pass. is it a semi-conductor plant? A biotech industry? no but this is where we are with a population that makes the above calculation regarding taxes and gambling

Nov. 04 2013 11:04 AM
Nick from UWS

If they build casinos up there, they should make it a law that no one who lives in the community can gamble in them. They can only work in them.

Nov. 04 2013 11:03 AM
Katie Kennedy from Huntington

I couldn't care less about chronic gamblers. I care about the crime it brings--check out the boardwalk at Atlantic City. Now way you can walk there on a nice evening without either witnessing a drug deal or being approached by a dealer or homeless person. It produces nothing, not even adequate jobs. I don't want New York to turn into New Jersey.

Nov. 04 2013 11:03 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

My relatives sold their hotel, The Granite, in 1972 to the mob in anticipation of gambling which ultimately never came.

Nov. 04 2013 11:03 AM
GG from Manhattan

Oh Please.... this guy has no insight into economics . There is no product in a pool hall or sports teams and many other businesses when you think about it including other forms of entertainment like Tosh 2.0. Not all of economics is about producing products Gambling is entertainment. It does produce Jobs and spur the economy ... ever heard of LAS Vegas and Macau? Looks like they have done pretty well with this non product

Cheez people really THINK or do they just cling to their ideologies with any reason?

Nov. 04 2013 11:02 AM

um krispy kreme was not founded in harlem.

"Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc. {Pronounced KREM Mr Perkins } is a doughnut company founded on July 13, 1937. Krispy Kreme founder Vernon Rudolph bought a secret yeast-raised recipe from a New Orleans chef, rented a building in what is now historic Old Salem in Winston-Salem, NC, and began selling to local grocery stores.[2] - wikipedia

Nov. 04 2013 11:02 AM
Nick from UWS

"This is a good chance for the state to get a nice infusion of capital". Regardless of whether some poor guy blows his brains out because he lost his life savings in a casino. The insidious "voice of the state".

Nov. 04 2013 11:00 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Legalizing drugs and prostitution would create more jobs for poor people AND produce more revenues!

Nov. 04 2013 11:00 AM
John A

Where do I vote to outlaw it nationally?

Nov. 04 2013 10:58 AM
The Truth from Becky

It is not about the location of the casino, the people who really want to gamble WILL get to the casino! Just like all the other vices people have, why not keep that revenue in the State?

Nov. 04 2013 10:57 AM
Susan from nyc

When New Yorkers voted years ago to have the Lottery in New York the money was supposed to go to education. If the money did go to education we wouldn't have the financial problems in our schools that we have now. Where did all that money go that was supposed to go for education? And how do we know that the same thing won't happen again with money from the casinos? The politicians always make promises and then when their proposals are passed the money disappears.

Nov. 04 2013 10:56 AM
tom from astoria

I just got a call from PRO Gambling group. Telling me how so much money goes out of state...I said Im from BUFFALO, NY and know how much we need jobs. But give us manufacturing, not insidious gambling.

Nov. 04 2013 10:56 AM

Being "desperate" is never a good way to solve a problem.

Gambling only makes poor people more poor, and then they result to worse measures to stay afloat - crime. Then we'll need even more prisons.

As the wise asian once said, "beware of simple solutions to complex problems."

Nov. 04 2013 10:56 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I'm pasting this in from my comment in the Oct. 23 segment on this issue: The Voter Guide section on this ballot proposal says there's already a law that will authorize gambling at 4 new video lottery gaming facilities *if the proposal doesn't pass*. This puts voters in the position of voting for 1 kind of gambling or another in NY State rather than for or against gambling, & I don't think that's clear enough.

Nov. 04 2013 10:54 AM
Nick from UWS

So let's increase state revenue by looting the 401Ks of people through casinos.

Nov. 04 2013 10:54 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Short answer: NO! Long answer: NO, NO, NO, NO.

Why not legalize prostitution and drugs instead? Probably less harmful and more lucrative if tax revenues is what you want.

Nov. 04 2013 10:53 AM
Nick from UWS

Anything that preys on the delusional qualities of human beings...casinos, churches, "political action committees"...deeply harms communities. Anything that stimulates delusional thinking and moves mentally vulnerable people away from reality, is harmful to communities.

Nov. 04 2013 10:52 AM

And why can't I spend my money anyway I want to?
Why is the right wing big brother better than a liberal big bro?

Nov. 04 2013 10:52 AM
Kate from Hamilton Heights

Hi Brian -
One question, one comment:

1. I'm considering voting for this proposition because I hope that it will mean we can close some prisons by giving upstate New York a way of making money other than the prison-industrial complex.

Comment: No one ever seems to talk about gambling as a way of seizing resources from Native American communities. While gambling was illegal in so many states, it was the one way that Native Americans were able to make money. As soon as Indian tribes started making real money, all of a sudden white America wanted a piece of the action and our discomfort with gambling suddenly went away.

Nov. 04 2013 09:35 AM

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