Press-Republican

October 11, 2013

Editorial: Casinos a windfall


Press-Republican

---- — Voters in New York state are going to be asked at the polls this November whether they want four new casinos to be built in three regions: the Catskills, the Capital District and the Finger Lakes – two in one of those areas.

It’s hard to make a sound argument against the proposition.

Reliable estimates forecast annual revenues of $420 million — including $16 million for seven North Country counties — and 10,000 jobs.

Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties would share almost $3 million in school aid and more than $4 million in government aid, including $3.5 million Franklin County receives from the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino.

Revenue and jobs — what more could this region ask for?

As it is now, New Yorkers who want to gamble have a few choices: Indian gaming parlors here and there or head to Atlantic City or Las Vegas.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has advocated building the casinos, correctly sees a bonanza in persuading New Yorkers to stay home to gamble, rather than watching those dollars go out of state.

Massachusetts and other states are also pushing gambling sites at home. They also recognize the folly in continuing to wave goodbye to all those in-staters who spend their gambling dollars where they will do their home counties no good.

In the past, some moralists have decried the ethics of government profiting from people’s desire to gamble. But that sentiment seems largely a thing of the past. The truth is that human beings are fascinated by the lure of a quick profit, whether sanctioned by the government or not. Think about how many lottery tickets are sold each day.

Aficionados thrill at the sights and sounds of a casino and its gaudy presentation. To many, it represents a rollicking good time, win or lose.

Do critics also advocate doing away with horse racing at Saratoga racetrack because gambling is a factor there?

No less of an ethical bedrock than the Catholic Church has been profiting from games of bingo for decades. In fact, recent state initiatives on casinos have been seen as potentially injurious to the church in Massachusetts and elsewhere throughout the country.

For a story on the proposed casinos in Wednesday’s Press-Republican, Staff Writer Joe LoTemplio asked Stephen Shafer of the Coalition Against Gambling in New York for his view: “Most people who go to a casino do not have a problem, but there are some that it can start the chain of misery and untold woe to families, and it can be a burden on society.”

But must an overwhelming benefit to the majority give way to the narrow interests of a small minority? Are cars banned because some people insist on driving drunk?

Casinos afford state taxpayers a windfall, with few negatives attached. The proposition deserves a “yes” vote.