When Gov. Cuomo announced his plan to allow more casinos to be built upstate — but none in the city or on Long Island — this page called it a “foolish scheme” because, simply put, downstate is where the people are, and where most of the money is.
And what appeared foolish in May 2013 looks even more so in July 2014.
The casino industry is contracting. One of Atlantic City’s 12 gaming centers closed early this year and three more are expected to, including the one bearing the name of Queens native Donald Trump. Moody’s Investors Service, the gold standard on credit ratings, recently downgraded the gaming industry as a whole from stable to negative.
An exception to all this, of course, is Queens’ own Resorts World Casino New York City, the racino at Aqueduct Race Track in South Ozone Park. Even without actual table games, Resorts World is turning a profit while Atlantic City crumbles. And 70 percent of its revenue, hundreds of millions of dollars a year, goes to the state, helping to fund education as well as horse racing and the lottery.
Yet Cuomo somehow thought it wise to encourage casino building where there is very little if any demand, while continuing to deny Resorts World the table games it should be allowed to have.
Upstaters already can gamble at Yonkers, just north of the city; Monticello in the Catskills; Saratoga north of Albany; and Turning Stone, between the Adirondack Mountains and the Finger Lakes; not to mention Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. There are multiple casinos in Pennsylvania, more being considered in New Jersey and one going up in Massachusetts (even as there is a push there to repeal the 2011 law allowing gaming).
Clearly this ship has sailed. Cuomo, perhaps realizing this, now says that building new casinos or not is really up to the private sector. We can’t see wise investors taking the plunge. Promoting manufacturing and higher education is much smarter. Gambling can’t fix the upstate economy, where there is so little disposable income. As Willie Sutton said about banks, New York City is where the money is.