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September 16, 2014
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Report: gaming costs outweigh benefits


NEW YORK STATE — There are many unknowns about the law that would allow non-native American casinos to be operated in New York State if voters decide in November that the state constitution should be changed to allow it. But using what information is known, and using assumptions that they say gives the benefit of the doubt to casino supporters, the Coalition Against Gambling in New York (CAGNY) issued a report on September 23, which says that for the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers the cost of casinos will outweigh the benefits.

The highly technical 20-page report finds that one cost alone, the cost of dealing with the increase in the number of “pathological or problem gamblers” that will be spawned by the additional casinos in the state, will dramatically outweigh any benefits provided to residents.

Click here for the full report.

A summary of the report reads, in part, “For just a 20% increase in gambling disorders we assume would occur under the act, we show their quantifiable socioeconomic costs (QSEC) per capita adult alone exceed those disbursements for more than 99% of adults in the state. Per annum, the Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act of 2013’s (UNYGED) funding provision would provide about $1 per capita adult in NYS to address gambling problems projected to rise by more than $50 under the act to $296 per capita adult.”

The report says that while UNYGED calls for reports and studies on the economic impact to host communities on such things as traffic, infrastructure and the local economy, it does so only after asking New Yorkers to amend the constitution, and does not call for any studies or reports on what the report labels as “quantifiable socio-economic costs,” which are significant and “arise almost entirely from problem and pathological gambling.”

One of the conclusions of the report is, “Without an assessment of the potential increases in quantifiable socio-economic costs, and costs for other services and infrastructure under UNYGEDA… voters aren’t receiving the information they need to make an informed decision in November.”

The report also says that the distribution of benefits from the casinos to communities would be widely inequitable from one place to another. For instance, in one scenario, if a casino were to be built in the Concord site in the Town of Thompson, that town would receive benefits equal to about $490 per capita adult (PCA), while the rest of the towns in the county $75 PCA, and downstate communities would receive about $20 PCA. Many residents of the Town of Fallsburg would live closer to the casino than many Thompson residents and would experience the impacts such as increased traffic.

The report asks, “if casino expansion is to be so beneficial for all residents of the state, why should those in host towns receive a state tax benefit so much greater than everyone else? As host towns, presumably their ‘casino dividend’ already far surpasses that for non-host towns and counties.”

Like other groups, CAGNY also opposed the language of the referendum question that will appear on the ballot. It will read, “The proposed amendment to section 9 of the Constitution would allow the legislature to authorize up to seven casinos in New York State for the legislated purpose of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated. Shall the amendment be approved?”

The report says, “Comparing this with the straightforward language of other amendments to appear on the November ballot leaves no doubt about the level of interference from the Governor and other Albany casino supporters in the process of ‘let the people decide.”

Go to cagnyinf.org to read the entire report.