Frequently Asked Questions

What is Predatory Gambling?

Predatory Gambling exploits human weakness for profit.  True friends playing poker is in that sense not predatory; a card shark fleecing suckers  is.   Any setting in which “the house” takes a cut is predatory, whether the cut goes to investors, tribe members, riverboat gambler  or direct to government.

Why does CAGNY oppose predatory gambling? 

Predatory gambling works relentlessly towards exorbitant profits.  At least 40-50% of the profits at casinos come from a small proportion of the gamblers who are drawn to   to “play to extinction.”   Most of the economic, emotional and spiritual loss that predatory gambling confers on society is through this relatively small sector of addicted and problem gamblers.  Casinos, state lotteries and Internet gambling (to name three) are dependent for high profits on having a renewable stream of gambling addicts and problem gamblers

 What aspect of Predatory Gambling looms the largest for NY in 2013?

The New York State Constitution banned gambling in 1821.  Governor Cuomo has recommended amending the Constitution to allow up to seven new commercial casinos in the state.  Late one night March 2012, both Chambers of the Legislature approved the first of three steps necessary to enact the amendment.  The second step, a bill to put the issue to public referendum,  passed both chambers in June 2013.   The proposal to amend goes to statewide referendum in November 2013.

If gambling was banned in the NY State Constitution, then why do I see casinos and other forms of gambling, like lottery, scratch-off tickets and video lottery terminals (AKA virtual slot machines) in NY State?

  • The New York State Constitution of 1894 banned gambling outright in Article 1 Section 9 
  • 1939 – An amendment to Article 1 Section 9 was passed by referendum to allow pari-mutuel betting at racetracks; law expanded this in 1970 to permit Off-Track Betting.
  • 1957- An amendment made an exception for “charitable gambling,” e.g. church bingo. 
  • The State Lottery (then ticket sales only) was allowed under an amendment of 1966.
  • October 2001 – Chapter 383 of the laws of October 2001 was passed in a midnight session because  George Pataki, Governor at the time, declared it a “necessity” after the attacks of September 11.  One part expanded the State Lottery to let it run video lottery terminals at racetracks, creating “racinos.”  Another part authorized participation in Mega- Millions, a multi-state lottery.
  • All casinos offically called casinos now open in New York State are under the auspices of Native American Indian tribes or other entities on land which the operators maintain is “sovereign,” thus not governed by the NYS constitution, but by Federal law.  Whether all casinos are actually on sovereign land is in long-running legal dispute. 
  • “Racinos” are huge arrays of electronic gambling devices on the grounds of horse tracks, all under the New York State Lottery.  At all racinos in the state a single central computer supposedly sets the outcome of every button-push on every one of thousands of electronic devices in less than a second after the button has been pushed.  Most  racinos call themselves casinos.  This looseness has been tolerated, but will be curtailed with the “Upstate New York Gaming Econoimc Development Act of  2013.   Theoretically the difference is that casinos have “live” table games while racinos cannot. In the public eye, “live ” means having human  croupiers or dealers or stickmen.   Actually, hybrid electronic table games like craps with physical dice thrown by a robot arm are “live”  in the same sense as a wire with current in it is “live” though not animate. At   Empire World Resorts in Queens, NY has the triple agent deceit  of a casino with live table games pretending to be a racino with “electronic table games”  flaunting  itself as a casino. 

If we have in New York State so many forms of legalized gambling, why did the Governor propose another constitutional amendment, to allow full-blown casinos? 

The Governor seems to believe that government can profit by revenues from casinos, that residents of New York State will collectively benefit thereby.   His  stance in 2012 was that the emergence of commercial casinos in our state would “create” jobs and recover for NYS tax on the accountable losses of casino gamblers from NY who currently go out of state.   Revenue on those losses goes now to those states; this could theoretically be “recaptured” if no one exited the state to gamble.  In his State of State message Jan 2013, however, the Governor did not mention “recapture.”  He pictured new casinos “upstate” attracting tourists visiting New York City.

A recent report by Stateline (a nonpartisan, nonprofit news service of the Pew Center on the States) found, however, that most states that legalized gambling in the last ten years have not received the local or state revenue promised by gambling promoters.

CAGNY holds that new casinos will create thousands of gambling addicts and problem gamblers who would not have become dependent without their introduction.  Each of these individuals will mar or ruin the lives of ten or a dozen  family members, friends and associates who are not problem gamblers.  This is a terrible design for a government that is supposed to protect vulnerable people.  No valid “cost-benefit analysis” can justify the harm.

Why does the Governor want to build commercial casinos?  Why not have more tribal casinos or more, or bigger, racinos?   Neither of the two needs a constitutional amendment.

  • Tribal casinos do not pay taxes; they have agreements with localities and the state for voluntary payments that they can withhold if in their eyes the compact has been violated.
  • The state cannot shut down a tribal casino for not keeping up with payments.  It could shut down a commercial casino in deep arrears on its taxes.  Payments by compact are thus less reliable than due taxes.
  • Moreover, there are very few sites in New York State on which a new tribal casino could   be built and legally operated starting 2014.  Of these few sites, none is very close to the richest market – the New York Metropolitan Area. The closer these few sites are to that region, the more opposition to tribal gambling on them can be expected from all sides and on many different grounds.
  • Racinos lack the glitz of full-service casinos and might not pull gamblers off their routes to full-service casinos in Connecticut or Atlantic City or Pennsylvania or (in future) Massachusetts.
  • Commercial casino entrepreneurs are expected to  lay out millions of dollars for the opportunity to bring their operations to or near to the New York Metropolitan area.  Having finished their lobbying for second passage and “enabling legislation”  at who knows what cost they must next get the amendment passed,  then must jockey for site licenses.   In a now-notorious mid-June move, the drafters of the “enabling legislation” pulled a section that would have limited campaign contributions by casino entities, solemnly assuring the public when this maneurver was disclosed by a reporter that  future campaign contributions must be reported.     If the history of state governments and big-time gambling is any guide, not all the flow will be above the table.


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