Opinion Editorial on Casino Gambling
Let gambling grow?Editorial
Gov. Cuomo has decided to tackle yet another hot-button issue: the legalization of non-Indian casinos in New York state.
It’s an idea that could provide New York with a much-needed revenue boost -- possibly a small fortune.
But it also comes with a downside.
It’s certainly worth considering. And, fortunately, there’s plenty of time to debate the larger issue -- whether legalized gambling in New York, overall, should be dramatically expanded.
After all, the state Constitution prohibits all forms of commercial gambling save those that currently exist -- eight (soon to be nine) racetrack racinos and five Indian-run casinos.
Which means that the Constitution would have to be amended -- which itself is no mean feat.
First, the state attorney general has to prepare a written opinion confirming that any proposed amendment does not conflict with other articles in the Constitution.
Then the amendment must be approved by both houses of the Legislature in two consecutive sessions -- after which it must be passed by voters in a ballot referendum.
It’s a long and time-consuming process, in other words -- though the governor can also ask the voters to approve a constitutional convention.
Either way, expanded gambling won’t be coming to your neighborhood any time soon.
We’ve long been skeptical about the wisdom of government being so reliant on gambling revenue -- not to mention the wider economic impact on those who can least afford to rack up huge losses.
But Cuomo is entirely correct when he says that gambling “is happening” here and in neighboring states -- and that the key question is: “How should it be done?”
Fact is, as this page has chronicled over the years, gambling in New York -- including horse racing and the lottery (as well as the Indian casinos and video slot machines) -- is at the moment a patchwork that sure can stand some coherence.
The governor has appointed an ex-racing commissioner, Bennett Liebman, as special adviser to undertake a comprehensive review of all gambling in New York.
That’s a good first step -- because the problem is complex.
And the solution has to be all-encompassing, as well.
Any expansion of gambling cannot be done in a piecemeal, scattershot fashion.
There has to be a well-thought-out policy that addresses all of the present inequities, bureaucratic nightmares and likely human impact.
Let the debate begin.