Why I will vote NO on Prop 1 in the 2013 New York ballot

There is nothing in politics as appealing as a quick fix. It sounds great, it looks like it will work, and it pushes the problem down the road to a time when hopefully no one is paying attention. In many ways Proposal 1 (Prop 1) on the New York Ballot for November 5th is just that.

The first think to consider about Prop 1 is why it exists. Simply put, NY is the least business friendly State in the country, and has for decades governed under the theory that higher taxes and more entitlements will resolve all problems. This combination has resulted in a 60 year mass exodus of population and businesses. The result is a vortex of higher taxes on a dwindling middle class, with a growing poor.

To redress this situation, the latest fix is casinos – Prop 1. The proposal is that by allowing 7 casinos to exist in the State, prosperity will flow. Taxes will be lowered, jobs created, and all will be right with the world. Which sounds great.

But will casinos actually fix the business unfriendliness of NY? Will it really lower taxes, or create jobs, or improve the standard of living?

I believe the answer is no. Ultimately, any casino does one thing well – they drain money from people. If they don’t they fail and close. So casinos net reduce income, not create it. While that may be fine (from a State perspective) if this is money from tourists, like Las Vegas, in general the more immediate effect is from populations closer to the casino, which for Prop 1 means the already over taxed residents of New York.

Another problem facing Prop 1, improving the cities and counties the casino will be found in. Looking at Atlantic City, NJ we can see a possible result. If you have ever been to Atlantic City you may have noticed that 1 block from the casinos and the drop in quality is staggering. Few would call Atlantic City a prosperous town – if you exclude the casino strip.

For all the jobs generated by 12 casinos, Atlantic City has a poverty rate of 29%. That’s in a business friendly State, with lower taxes, and generally warmer and better climate year-round. Unemployment is currently 15.3% as of July according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to there are 32.8 murders/100,000 people, 55.4 rapes/100,000 people, 1,443.7 burglaries/100,000 people, and has a crime rate 55.5% higher than the US average.

Back in the business unfriendly, higher taxed, and mostly colder State of NY a comparison to a similar city in size and population is Binghamton, NY. With 7,000 more people, the poverty rate is 30%. Unemployment is 8.3%, murders/100,000 are 0, rapes 35.7, burglaries 872.1, and a mere 19% above US city average crime.

So would having a casino improve the crime rate for Binghamton or make it worse? According to Atlantic City it will make it worse. Still that may be acceptable to some if the average resident gained. Thus in Atlantic City 33% own homes and have a median income of $28,526/year. In Binghamton, without a casino, 46% own a home and median income is $30,267.

So based on a bigger, better, more planned out example of cities with casinos, New York’s plan sounds great – but lacks viability. The most reasonable outcome, over time, is worse than the reality without casinos. But it doesn’t sound sexy and exciting like the imagery a casino brings to mind.

Lastly, even if casinos are allowed in New York State, is this the goose that lays golden eggs? No. Because New York will remain (at least in the foreseeable future) a business unfriendly, hyper-taxed, debt-ridden State. The casinos will not plug the hole that is Albany spending. Population and businesses will still leave the State, and the powers that be will resort to the one trick they know – raise taxes more.

In the end, casinos are a great gimmick to distract from the invasion on freedoms and privacy (like the NY Safe Act) but it fails to address the real problems in New York State’s economy – politicians, taxes, and a lack of vision or will to do anything substantive.


Michael Vasquez

Michael "Vass" Vasquez

Michael “Vass” Vasquez

***Note – Mr. Vasquez is exploring a run for the NY-22 Congressional seat, currently held by fellow Republican Rep. Richard Hanna, in 2014***

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Comments (2)

  1. Charles Leary

    The casinos will provide hundreds of need jobs in the areas that they are built as well as provide revenue for the state. The question is whether or not New York will do the right thing with the money or just find more ways to spend it. The latter has proven to be their area of expertise in the past. As far as people choosing to gamble when they can’t afford it, anyone determined to gamble their life away is going to find a way to do it. Turning Stone, horse racing, video slots, and the state lottery are already here.

  2. Not to mention it would violate the compact with the Seneca by putting one in the southern tier. If they did that no doubt the Seneca would hold back the money to the state for the state, once again, breaking their word. I wouldn’t blame them as the state would violate the terms of the contract it would be null and void . So a loss of money right there.

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