Niagara Gazette

Opinion

September 15, 2013

GLYNN: Critics say ballot slanted for casinos

Niagara Gazette — Voters often ask why they’ve never been given a chance to express their opinion on legalizing casino gambling. 

The reason: State lawmakers who debated the issue for decades — the delay due in large part to the upstate vs. downstate bickering — failed to pass the measure twice as required under the State Constitution.

Now a referendum is finally in place for the November election. In fact, the item will be No. 1 on the short list that appears above the candidate lines. The problem is, critics contend, the ballot’s couched in language that puts a positive spin on the overall issue.

If you read it carefully, the wording is aimed at drawing a yes vote. After all, who’s going to vote against “promoting job growth, increasing aid to education and enabling local governments to lower property taxes”? That’s more spin than a roulette wheel, as one observer said.

Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group raises a valid point: “If you’re going to have the benefits written in (on the ballot), you should have the minuses too, including gambling addiction.” He adds: “I don’t know if that violates the letter of spirit of the law, but it’s heavily one-sided.”

For the record, the straight-forward, simple message for the voter facing the referendum is: The proposed amendment to Section 9 of Article 1 of the State Constitution would allow the Legislature to authorize up to seven casinos in New York state.” There was no need for Gov. Andrew Cuomo or his staff to help the Board of Elections write the text to sway voters. A lot of people are convinced that’s what happened.

•••

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