Niagara Gazette

November 7, 2013

GLYNN: Issues still rise over casino gambling impact

By DON GLYNN don.glynn@niagara-gazette.com
Niagara Gazette

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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OFF THE WALL: One of the most ridiculous recorded messages for a candidate in Tuesday’s election was from Nik Wallenda, asking voters to support Paul Wojtasek of North Tonawanda in the race for Supreme Court Justice. It’s an insult to voters to think that a high-wire performer who lives in Florida knows anything about candidates or the issues in Western New York. Many local residents couldn’t believe that robo call they received. 

Wallenda should be devoting more time to finding private investors to support his “permanent attraction” or what he has in mind to lure more tourism to the Cataract City. Whatever he ultimately decides, those costs should not be put on the backs of local taxpayers. How can that be defined as economic development?

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A REMINDER: The Home Energy Assistance Program season (2013-14) will begin Nov. 18 with improvements in the application process. A spokesman said that applications have been forwarded to qualified individuals who were HEAP recipients in 2012 and meet the requirements. Seniors may find assistance with their applications  at the Sale Association Senior Center, North Tonawanda, and at the Duke Senior Center, Hyde Park Boulevard, in Niagara Falls. For information regarding HEAP, call 278-8400 or visit niagaracounty.com/social services/Home.aspx.

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TRIVIA QUIZ: Who was the running mate of Michael Dukakis (D) in the 1988 presidential election? (Answer Sunday)

Contact Reporter Don Glynnat 282-2311, ext. 2246.

Contact Reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246.