State lawmakers passed a constitutional amendment last march that would allow for seven fully-fledged and furnished casinos available statewide in New York. However, an amendment needs to be passed within consecutively elected sessions of the Legislature and furthermore voted by the public at a later date.
The anti-gambling coalition has its sights set on the year 2013, where it is expected that the second vote by the Legislature and one also by the public is due to take place.
The Coalition Against Gambling in New York met with state legislators on Monday in an effort to connect with the incumbents that were running for re-election that also have a another chance at a vote on the casino amendment for next year.
“We feel that it’s not too soon to begin laying the groundwork for a fight next year,” said Joel Rose, chairman of the Buffalo-based group. “Most of the legislators who are here now will be back then, and we’ll be talking to people who are candidates, also. This is not going to be the end of our efforts. This is really the beginning of our efforts on this amendment.”
The coalition has attempted to thwart the amendment through the distribution of papers opposing it for a variety of reasons. Amongst the list are the economic development benefits being overrated. Also detailed in the paper were the notions that legalizing forms of gambling raises a ‘moral question’ regarding ‘the state raising revenue at the expense of the most vulnerable.’
“We’re opposed to gambling because of the human destruction that it brings,” said Rev. Duane Motley, a senior lobbyist for New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, based in Monroe County. “Gambling does not produce economic stimulus that the government likes to paint that it will.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo has been a strong supporter of the amendment allowing the seven casinos, stating that New York whilst New York currently allows various forms of gambling, denying the casinos would result in a loss of tax revenue to bordering states that are currently allowing table games. “By taking these important first steps to legalize casinos we are finally confronting the reality that while New York is already in the gaming business, we need a real plan to regulate and capitalize on the industry,” he said in a statement in March.
James Featherstonhaugh, the president of the New York Gaming Association, touted that the benefits will come as a result of education funding.
“I understand that gambling, like many other things, brings some risks of societal issues being raised and brings some challenges if it’s going to be done responsibly and well,” he said. “But when it is done responsibly, as I believe New York’s existing racetrack casinos do in consultation with problem-gaming experts, then it really is just one more entertainment choice that the public can either use or not use as it desires.”