Why have there been no public hearings on one of the most important legislative events of our lifetimes? We mean the proposed amendment of the New York Constitution to allow full-scale casino gambling. The amendment requires two legislative votes and then a referendum. The first vote took place out of the public eye and without debate or community input in an all-night session. It is no secret that the gambling industry poured millions upon millions of dollars in contributions to legislators in the hope of securing a positive vote. They got it; the first vote was affirmative.
Now it’s time and past time to bring this issue out into the light of day. Legislators can’t be allowed to decide, unchallenged, that casinos build the economy. Let the people of New York hear the other side, that casinos suck money out of the pockets of citizens and into the hands of casino owners like a vacuum cleaner. So what if the state gets a cut of this virtual theft? Let’s confront the fact that entering into a compact with a predatory industry is completely contrary to the state’s duty to safeguard the well-being of the people. Let’s discuss the mess that will have to be cleaned up all around the casinos. Will the state help with the increased crime, bankruptcy and social services needed to ease the devastation of families, all of which research has shown follows in the wake of casinos? Will the state help local businesses that are shut down by the in-house casino restaurants and mall-like stores? Or will it leave all this up to municipalities and counties? Either way, it will hurt people, cost money and suck cash out of the economy.
Let’s at the very least have a public discussion before we take this terrible step.
Executive Committee of No Saugerties Casino