More than 40 percent of the state’s population lives here in New York City, and when you count the other downstate counties, the number soars above 60 percent. Put simply, this is where the people are.
So why does Gov. Cuomo want to see new casinos built upstate only? And why would he continue to deny Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct Race Track the full table gaming he would allow upstate?
The answer is that he believes new entertainment venues upstate and in Western New York will improve the economies of those regions by drawing more players with money. But it’s a foolish scheme, because downstate residents will simply continue to go to casinos in Atlantic City and Connecticut for table games. Who would drive all the way to, say, the Adirondacks, where special environmental laws would probably make a casino very tough to get built anyway, or Rochester to gamble, when you could make a much shorter trip to AC or Mohegan Sun?
The governor — who grew up in Queens, don’t forget — even made a point of slighting the city in his plan, saying that in order to make full casinos work upstate, they have to be blocked downstate.
But not only is that economically unwise — because the state will continue to miss out on most of the revenue it loses now to New Jersey and Connecticut — it’s unfair. It’s unfair to our residents, who shouldn’t be denied nearby entertainment options available to people upstate.
And it’s unfair to Resorts World, which has been a good neighbor and a great source of revenue for the state. For the fiscal year ending March 31, it sent $488 million to Albany: $306 million for education, $112 million for the horse racing industry and $70 for the Lottery Administration. The casino’s revenue for March alone was $71.2 million, 21 percent higher than it was in March 2012. Seventy percent of its revenues go to the state.
And the governor wants to keep it from offering new games? We hope our other elected officials can change his mind.