When CAGNY members visit legislators in Albany on Feb 5, here is what we will say about the Governor’s proposal to amend the state constitution (Article I sec 9 and allow up to seven new commercial casinos:
Half the revenue of casinos and large lotteries is from pathological ( addicted) and problem gamblers. They seldom own what they drop. It has usually been diverted from someone else (e.g. spouse) who has equal or better right to it (e.g. mortgage payment). These are “abused dollars.” Some of the money lost by these gamblers comes from outright crime, a later recourse for many pathological gamblers beyond taking from intimates or dependents who might not prosecute.
Thus half the revenue government gets from gambling is passed to it from gamblers’ losses, staked by deceitful diversion or outright thefts from someone other than the gambler. The multiplier for “other” is 8-fold. For every pathological or problem gambler, 8 other people, often children, are deprived of something valuable, not limited to money.
When government facilitates or sponsors gambling to balance the budget, it exploits not only the dis-control of some gamblers but the miserable situation of their families and close associates. For government to overlook this injury to persons —including children— around the gambler treats them as expendable.
Even if someone thinks gambling addicts deserve to live damaged lives or to self-end them, he or she cannot wish the same fate on the gambler’s near and once-dear. More than dollars are abused. Domestic violence, physical, and emotional injury are common in the circles of gambling addicts and problem gamblers. Suicide harms, not one person, but many.
Fear, distance, abstraction can make other humans expendable to the best of us. The story should be different, however, when the people to be made expendable are not remote and when the people doing the expending are in our state government. We who oppose the constitutional amendment say “No New Yorker is expendable.”
VOTE NAY ON SECOND PASSAGE
The text of the amendment of Art I §9 that would go to referendum must be the same as S 6734. Implementing language must be approved by the legislature, though who will draft it and when is not clear. A vote for second passage gives no security to a legislator or to the voters at referendum on these key points, any or all of which could be changed in a later session:
- Timetable of building the “no more than seven” casinos
- Locations and size Could a new casino double its gambling floorspace three years later?
- “Home Rule” What level of social organization (e.g. village, town, county, state) will make decisions about same or different levels close by (e.g. village inside a town). Who speaks, who votes?
- Rate for property tax and for tax on casino income payable to state and sub-state levels.
- Funding for “prevention and treatment.”
The sleep of reason brings forth nightmares: a worst case scenario could put five or six big casinos in or very near the Greater Metropolitan Area, leading to eighty thousand new gambling addicts and 200,000 new problem gamblers. Or, think of this: Would it be socially just, if all the town boards in a county but one voted against a casino, to put one in the lone holdout township?
VOTE NAY ON SECOND PASSAGE