One organization named “property tax relief, job creation, and more education funding” as reasons for passing Proposition 1. The case for four New York casinos, though, goes much deeper.
First, increased tax revenues, from income as well as corporate profits, would cover much more than education support or lowered property assessments.
Second, even one casino-hotel would greatly help Sullivan County tourism. Old resort areas need new reasons for people to come back. Gambling, government-allowed or not, has loomed large in Catskills history, and today’s players want it clean and legal.
Third, casinos offer recreation to local residents, not only through propositions vastly fairer than pari-mutuels and lotteries, but concerts, restaurants, headline shows and nightclubs.
The disadvantages commonly named are smaller. With lotteries, websites, and out-of-state options, problem gamblers are well exposed anyway. Some local businesses would suffer from competition, but others would appear. Casinos are no longer destinations, so we could not expect massive crime increases. Not every large venture should be accepted. We rightfully rejected fracking, as it threatened to excessively damage our great natural beauty. In that context, the case for casinos, using limited land, is strong.
Full-scale casino-hotels average one full-time employee per guest room, meaning the proposed 200-room facility near Liberty, NY in a county with fewer than 32,000 jobs, would achieve a conservative one-half percent unemployment-rate drop all by itself.
Overall, we must decide. We can stay as we are, or we can gain money and jobs in ways unobtrusive and beneficial. The choice is clear.
James B. Huntington