BY LUIS GRONDA
Voters will soon decide whether or not full-scale table gaming will be allowed in New York State.
The casino amendment is one of six propositions residents will cast their ballot on during the Nov. 5 elections.
The proposition would allow full table gaming in casinos in New York State, which would open the door for sit-down gambling games like blackjack, craps and poker offered at casino havens like Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
Earlier this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his plan to bring seven casinos to New York. Four of those casinos would be allocated to upstate New York. Under his plan, upstate New York would be divided into six regions and four of those areas would get a casino. Each region would not have more than one casino. If the proposition passes, these future casinos would be allowed to have full gaming from the time they open.
“Our state has a unique opportunity to revitalize the local economies of communities in upstate New York and create thousands of new jobs where they are needed most,” Gov. Cuomo said in May. “For years, neighboring states like Connecticut and New Jersey have benefited from New Yorkers leaving our state to visit their gaming facilities. We want to reverse this trend by putting new resort destinations in upstate New York.”
The news of Cuomo’s plan was not music to the ears of City legislators. As part of his casino plan, there could be more casinos coming to New York City, but only after a seven-year waiting period. The remaining three proposed casinos would be allocated after that waiting period.
Both State Sen. Joe Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) and Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park) have championed for Resorts World Casino to get full gaming because they say Resorts World is a proven community partner and it would benefit the City’s economy.
The pair both expressed concern about whether or not the proposition will pass.
When asked about its chances, Addabbo said it is “50-50” that it will pass because interest in a proposition is generally lower than voting on an election for elected office. This might also apply to voters upstate, according to Addabbo, as turnout might be lower as there are not as many contested seats up for grabs, compared to the City, which has Mayor, Public Advocate and several City Council seats.
Goldfeder said, based on the number of people he has spoken to in his district, he does not think it will pass because many are concerned about Resorts World and the City being a part of its immediate plans for table gaming.
“I think the voters here feel left out and they’re going to show that on Nov. 5,” he said.
One group, the Coalition Against Gambling in New York, opposes the casino proposition and gambling in the State as a whole.
The group’s chairperson, Stephen Shafer, said voting for the amendment would open the door for more people in New York to become addicted to gambling, which can be a prominent problem for a small number of people who frequent casinos.
He said that gambling addiction can ruin their lives and those around them because they crave money to satisfy their addiction.
“They ran out of their own money long ago and they are using someone else’s instead,” Shafer said.
He believes the State government should invest in helping people with a gambling addiction and promoting tourism to New York as well.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.