Earlier this year, the New York State Gaming Commission solicited proposals to conduct a study of the gambling industry in the Empire State. The proposed study would evaluate the existing casinos in New York, assess the potential consequences of issuing new casino licenses, and consider the potential market for online gambling and for expanded sports gambling.
At New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, we believe it’s a bit late for a study.
As the Albany Times Union recently noted, no such study was conducted in 2002 (when New York legalized video lottery terminals) and no such study was conducted in 2013 (when New York—at the urging of Gov. Andrew Cuomo—amended its Constitution to allow upstate casinos on non-Indian lands). So why is a study being conducted now?
According to the Times Union, “lawmakers anticipate the study will prompt a shakeup of the state’s gambling rules and regulations, potentially leading to the development of three casinos in the New York City area.” Furthermore, one casino executive interviewed by the TU opined that the study results “could be used to expedite [licensing] for new casinos and provide tax relief to upstate casinos.” Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee Chair Joe Addabbo (D-Queens) hopes that the report will lead to sports gambling expansion.
None of these prospects should gladden the hearts of New York voters. The prospect of taxpayer-funded casino bailouts is particularly repugnant. But New York government’s unseemly love affair with the casino industry isn’t about New Yorkers. It’s about money. Specifically, it’s about governments seeking new sources of tax revenue, politicians seeking campaign donations from well-funded casino interests, and casino moguls seeking new and creative ways to enrich themselves by enticing people into unwise choices.
Jason J. McGuire, Executive Director, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, said, “Following the tremendous expansion the gambling industry has seen in New York in recent years, this is simply a case of too little, too late. The Empire State went all in a long time ago.”
It doesn’t take a study to know how New York should proceed in regard to gambling policy. If the study is completed, it is hoped that its authors will have the courage to state the obvious: New York needs more gambling like it needs a hole in the head.