Legalize and Regulate Casino Gaming in New York

10 Aug

I’ve often said that I’m not opposed to casino gaming in Buffalo, WNY, or New York State. What I object to is the Seneca’s exclusivity, and the phony carving-out of sovereign Seneca exclaves in the middle of downtown Niagara Falls, or on the far fringes of Buffalo’s downtown. I don’t think that these cities would as readily cede blocks of property to France or New Zealand, so it makes little sense to do the same to enrich other, tax-free, sovereign nations, at the expense of surrounding neighborhoods and merchants.

So, it’s a good thing that Governor Cuomo is looking to re-examine the constitutional prohibition on casino gaming in New York so that these entities can be properly taxed and regulated, not just by the federal government, but also by states and municipalities.  Gambling already exists, and it’s all over the place – the lottery, OTB, racinos. This is the next logical step.

22 Responses to “Legalize and Regulate Casino Gaming in New York”

  1. Leo Wilson August 10, 2011 at 6:37 am #

    I have to agree with this post, Alan. I’d say the first thing to do is legalize sports gambling, though. Make those football cards you can buy in very public office and most private offices legal, taxed and regulated.

    About a decade ago, a connected neighbor who is in that business guestimated that the annual take on that just in Buffalo is about 1/2 billions. That money, once collected, doesn’t get reinvested in the private economy. Rather, it is used to fund criminal activities, influence political campaigns and bribe public servants. I can’t help imagining that other cities in NY with larger populations have even more startling returns.

  2. Leo Wilson August 10, 2011 at 6:38 am #

    uh… who WAS in that business and has not been for longer than statutes of limitations…

  3. John Roach August 10, 2011 at 7:01 am #

    Good move on the Governor’s part.

  4. Leo Wilson August 10, 2011 at 7:02 am #

    Legalizing sports gambling would be an entirely new revenue stream for NY, with no competition from indigenous casinos. It would only impact those with enough discretionary funds to be involved with it in the first place.

  5. Tom Dolina August 10, 2011 at 7:17 am #

    And here’s a tip for you: don’t bet on the Bills..

  6. James August 10, 2011 at 8:17 am #

    Cuomo’s comments drew immediate reaction from the Oneida Nation, operator of the Turning Stone casino and entertainment complex in Central New York.

    The state can pursue a lengthy constitutional amendment, “or it can bring gaming to the state promptly and assuredly under already-existing laws by working closely with its in-state Indian nations to enjoy immediate revenue sharing which would benefit the entire state,” said Oneida spokesman Mark Emery. WIVB

    Sure sounds like the Indian nations are in favor of everyone making money from gambling.

  7. RaChaCha August 10, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    Well, Pundit, if you’re Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino-skeptical then — according to what Seneca Nation President Robert Porter said yesterday — YOU MAY BE A RACIST.
    http://www.capitaltonight.com/2011/08/seneca-president-casino-opposition-based-partly-on-hate/

    Porter’s statement nearly gave me whiplash, as I’ve heard several positive comments about him even from casino opponents. And especially given his recent “make friends not enemies” full-court positive publicity press on the future of the casino project, and his efforts on state-level issues to press the case that the sovereign Seneca Nation should be seen on an equal footing with state and federal governments on taxation and treaty issues.

    Yet put him under a bit of pressure and scrutiny, and he deals the race card with as much facility as a big-city pol who got his hand caught in the cookie jar.

    DISTURBING AND DISAPPOINTING.

  8. lefty August 10, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    The biggest challenge to the casino debate, at least in my opinion, is how they are currently setup.

    Some folks will say that a casino is a drain on the local economy and, therefore, all casinos are bad.  Others look at places with casino clusters, see the benefit and, therefore, say they can provide benefit.  So the challenge really comes down to people talking about two different things.

    I used to be in full support of the casino in Buffalo and currently think it would not be that bad of a project.  It would add hotel rooms and activities to the downtown experience and could be used as a selling point for small convention business.  However, the risks of being a stand along casino would still be there.

    Today, I think the best option would be cluster the casinos in the Falls.  Not only is there a single casino up and running on the US side, but you have Clifton Hill to work with as well.  Add in 2-3 more casinos w/ hotels and you could really make a destination.  

    Now some will say that this hurts Buffalo/Erie County…as they would still have to deal with the negatives without the positives from revenue.  This may be true to an extent but you could mitigate that by marketing and coordination.  After all, the Falls is 20min by bus for a convention group and I have taken longer bus rides for ‘activities’ for conventions in places like Phoenix.  

  9. buffaloobserver August 10, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    I agree totally with Leo that sports betting should be legalized in NY. As someone who used to “run” football cards for a number of years I can attest to its profitablity. But I really don’t believe the Governor is serious about looking into the State’s taking on Casino Gambling. More like it is he dangling this threat in front of the Indian Tribes in hopes of bringing them to the table for some agreement on taxes for goods sold on the reservations.

  10. Brian Wood August 10, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    I guess since the (mostly) poor WILL gamble, the rest of us might as well get some revenue enhancement. (Roxbury, Mass., 753 outlets selling Lotto tickets; Winchester, 1, according to an article in (I think) Harper’s about 10 years ago).

  11. jhorn August 10, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    leo w- while i’m entirely in favor of legalizing gambling, i don’t believe for a minute that “It would only impact those with enough discretionary funds to be involved with it in the first place.”

    hope to see more elaboration on the first half of alan’s post, esp. the chimerical enclaves and the corruption freighting their carving-out.

  12. Hank August 10, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    I guess Joel Rose is either teaching or taking a nap.

    At first I felt like the Indians SHOULD have exclusives on the gambling, cigarettes, etc—they’ve been screwed over by the White Man since they gave up Manhattan Island. Unfortunately, “The Tribe” (the Senecas in WNY, the Oniedas in CNY) still has many people living on the Res in abject poverty. I felt like as long as all members of the tribe got some of the profits, and their living conditions, health care, etc were improved, let them have the monopoly. My father in law was full blood Oneida, his son is the mayor of Vernon, NY where Turning Stone Casino is. He gets too angry when he discusses the iniquities of the way the Tribe treats most of their members, and their total disregard for the residents of Oneida and Madison County.

    That being said, sure couldn’t hurt NYS to bring in some other gaming companies and give the Tribes some healthy competition. The Seneca’s also need to take down the shitty billboards they have erected where I-90 passes through “Their Land”—-makes it look like you’re on the way to Myrtle Beach…Not the Empire State.

  13. Mr.F.N. Magoo August 10, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    I’m with buffaloobs on his speculation that this is about Cuomo trying to create leverage with the nations. And I haven’t spent time in the casinos around here but I frequent the Batavia Downs and most of the people I see when I’m there during the day are seniors. At night, its a mix but still mostly golden agers who don’t look like they’re subsisting on Fancy Feast to support their gambling. Only anecdotal (but regular) observation, to be sure but I don’t believe the bulk of the action comes from poor people. BTW, the odds on the video poker at the racinos isn’t the same as at the casinos so they play waaaaay differently.

  14. Leo Wilson August 10, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    My take is simple – this stuff is happening, legal or not, taking monies from the families of participants, legal or not, and having an impact on our communities.

    I also think our community in WNY is corrupted by the illegal gambling. Probably from legal gambling, too, but there’s at least some record of that to review; the illegal stuff has far more negatives. We aren’t going to eliminate the gambling, so lets do make the monies traceable and taxable.

  15. Leo Wilson August 10, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    jhorn, I’m a little uncertain about that myself – lots of people might think buying a football card is more of a sure thing than a lottery ticket, and some are going to spend their last dollar on one even if they have three hungry kids at home (what the heck, a dollar isn’t going to help).

    What it would do, though, is require legal remedies for excess and (if thought about) provide some safety net for those who develop problems. Gamblers Anonyomus type organizations in Nevada are funded with casino revenues, just as oil companies are required to provide a publically managed clean-up fund and (just heard on the radio) someone is trying to make the gas companies create a fund to compensate those who might be harmed by hydro-fracking.

  16. Leo Wilson August 10, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    Today, the house allows credit and collectors break your legs or make you disappear.

  17. Mr.F.N. Magoo August 10, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    Leo’s last points are in line with the arguments in support of legalizing drugs and have a lot of support from studies, surveys and in academia. Regulation of gambling and drugs would increase revenue, go further to protect consumers, and severely depress the presence of criminality.

  18. Mr.F.N. Magoo August 10, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    re 17 – Leo’s points in #14. He got 3 posts in before I could post one.

  19. Stan P August 10, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    Hey, I think the Indians got screwed and need some kind of Monopoly. Taking this exclusivity away, I would propose that they move into other US=banned activity. Think of the profits they could register with legal prositution and self-grown marjuana sales. That would also tend to reduce the crime in the non-reservation parts of the city.

  20. Leo Wilson August 10, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    Sorry, Mr. Magoo – I kinda naturally break things down into managable chunks, its a curse of being a sysadmin for decades.

  21. jimd August 10, 2011 at 4:28 pm #

    @#11. You are quite correct to assume gambling will impact more than those that can afford it. I work in several subsidized housing projects, one in particular in the city unabashedly promotes junkets to the Seneca Casino about 4 times a year. I get that people need help, but it is a little off-putting to bust your ass week in and week out just to see people piss away their government checks at a casino.

  22. Ben August 11, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    I think we can all agree that a world where Erie County gets a whole bunch of casino money AND marijuana can be freely sold on Seneca territory is pretty much the best case scenario.

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