The letter below was written to be distributed to all NYS legislators on the morning before the Governor’s State of the State Message. The three casinos “upstate” he projected in the SOSM we can see would create fewer gambling addicts than (say) five in the Metropolitan area. This “phase I ” scenario, however, does not rule out a second phase with four casinos south of “upstate.” to compete with casinos in neighboring states. Nothing is off the table. The Governor’s discussion of the amendment was a trial balloon.. The amendment is a terrible idea, but if it is to go to referendum the Governor and his appointees should not be calling the shots.
Even if new to the Legislature, you don’t need an alert or reminder to know that soon you will consider in committee or on the floor “second passage” of S06734. Enacted on March 14, 2012, this was a proposal to amend Article 1, Sec. 9 of the NYS Constitution to allow “no more than seven” casinos to be built “as prescribed by the Legislature.” If a like bill is passed by both chambers in 2013, the proposal to amend will be put to public referendum.
Coalition Against Gambling in New York (CAGNY) believes this amendment would create tens of thousands of new addicted gamblers and problem gamblers. The figures for this forecast can be seen and downloaded at http://tinyurl.com/aas2tew The harm to each person so affected would be multiplied by eight or ten times as family, friends, and associates are inextricably caught up in the misery…. or have to flee it!
CAGNY observes that the Governor, who urged this amendment early in 2012, has ignored the collateral damage from “recapturing,” by new in-state casinos, gamblers who have been going out of state. In not acknowledging this collateral damage, he says in effect that thousands of NYS residents are expendable. Do you believe that too?
You will hear over and over that “the State needs the money.” CAGNY does not deny that the State needs money. We don’t deny, either, that governments at times lay out money putting lives at risk—soldiers and first responders, for example. We do hold that government should never plan a revenue-raising strategy that exploits illness and misery in its people ! Government should never on purpose enable life-threatening addictions!
We don’t know when the vote will be. In the days to come, however, we will return to your door often with more handbills that show why a “no” on second passage is a vote for truly good government. We’ll try to meet with you in person. We welcome your questions and your requests for detailed background. Feel free to call 917-453-7371 or e-mail our Chairperson at firstname.lastname@example.org.