Will New Casinos Fare Better than Monticello Raceway?

  |  November 5, 2013
photo from Empire Resorts

photo from Empire Resorts

Today, New Yorkers are voting on The New York Casino Gambling Amendment, Proposal 1. The upsides of the project, as encapsulated on the Yes on 1 NY website, include:

  • $4-6 Billion in Initial Construction Costs
  • Thousands of Local Construction Jobs
  • 10,000+ Resort Gaming Related Jobs
  • Over $238 Million in Annual Revenue for NYS
  • Over $192 Million in Local Revenues
  •  Funding for Education
  •  Property Tax Relief

Proponents say New Yorkers spend $2 billion gambling in other states; why not keep that money here?

Of course, there’s no guarantee that those who prefer to gamble in Vegas will forgo the hot desert nights for a trip closer to home, and there’s not much of a precedent set by our existing gambling hub, the Monticello Gaming and Raceway. Just a few years’ back, the New York Times ran a piece about the struggles of Monticello, un-buoyed by gambling dollars. “Once the area’s main attraction — a horse race could draw 12,000 spectators in the 1980s — the raceway has suffered as business has been siphoned off by competitors in Tioga County and Pennsylvania.” One local said, “Ever since the hotels closed down, the entire economy has been in the toilet.”

One opponent of the proposition is ex-Governor Mario Cuomo, who said “economically regressive to a state and a community.” Hi son, our current Gov, seems to be on the pro side. We’ve seen little evidence that rural casinos that are not partnered with other attractions can do much for an economy. But jobs? Yeah, we need them. Resurrect the Nevele? That would be great. The question is, how can gaming be part of a larger, integrated plan to lure folks from all over the state, to capitalize on rising airfare and international travel fatigue. It was cheap airfare and the ease of overseas travel that helped gut the upstate economy. Now the opposite is happening. It’s time to pounce. We’d like to see more evidence that casinos can get us moving again.

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