Niagara Gazette

Opinion

November 7, 2013

GLYNN: Issues still rise over casino gambling impact

Niagara Gazette — Here we go expanding gambling in New York state.

Forget that the state already has five Indian-operated casinos and nine of those slot machine parlors called “racinos” at race tracks.

Obviously Gov. Cuomo’s idea of economic development is to suck hard-earned money out of one community and into another. It’s absurd to think that with state-sanctioned gambling — voters approved the proposal Tuesday — New York will enjoy a new birth of growth in places like Binghamton or the Southern Tier. Whatever transpires, it will never merit the label “Las Vegas-style.” 

If you remember, before state lawmakers in New York first pushed back on legalizing casino gambling some 30 years ago, there was talk then about building resorts in the Empire State that would rival anything in Vegas. When it proved impossible to pass the legislation, New York opted to deal with the Indian tribes across the state. None of those places including the Seneca Niagara Casino resemble what the famous strip in Las Vegas now offers millions of annual visitors. 

Cuomo lists “luring tourists” as one of the benefits to flow from the four new casinos upstate. Take a walk through the casino here on any given day and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a bona fide tourist. In fact, you’ll likely find mostly residents of Niagara and Erie counties and some from Niagara Falls, Ont., and St. Catharines.

They’re not interested in seeing the lights on the falls. They won’t set foot on Goat Island and they have no intention of staying overnight. They’re gamblers. And when their finished, they’ll drive home the same day, probably with less dough than they had upon arriving.

The Episcopal bishop of New York was right on the money when he warned against ‘false hopes” about the economic benefits of gambling. He told reporters earlier in the week: “In places where casino gambling has been introduced, almost all gains have come at the high social cost of addiction and family disintegration, and deepening poverty.”   

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