When New York voters head to the polls in November, they’ll vote whether to allow up to seven private, non-Indian casinos across New York. Or, according to the referendum, they’ll be voting on “promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated.”
Good-government groups are raising concerns about the wording of the casino ballot, which touts the positive aspects of allowing casinos without mentioning the negatives.
Want lower taxes? More money for your schools? More jobs?
A referendum on the November ballot promises all that and more to New Yorkers as politicians seek to change the state constitution to allow seven Las Vegas-style casinos.
The rosy language is raising some eyebrows among good-government advocates and those opposed to gambling.
“It has more spin than a roulette wheel,” said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group.
The optimistic theme of the referendum makes no mention that those claims are disputed by some researchers and doesn’t note the decline of some casinos from New Jersey’s Atlantic City to those run by Indian tribes, or the rise in problem gambling that can shatter families and increase crime.
The measure written by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature starts with three casinos upstate. It reads:
“The proposed amendment to section 9 of article 1 of the Constitution would allow the Legislature to authorize up to seven casinos in New York State for the legislated purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated. Shall the amendment be approved?”
By comparison, an early draft mirrored most of New York’s dry, if dense, referenda. It stated simply: “The purpose of the proposed amendment to section 9 of article 1 of the constitution is to allow the Legislature to authorize and regulate up to seven casinos. If approved, the amendment would permit commercial casino gambling in New York state.”
Referenda are supposed summarize a law passed by the Legislature to change the constitution. The added benefits of tax breaks and school aid, however, aren’t listed in the law.
You can read the full AP story here.