Casino interests have spent $11 million in the last two years on lobbying and campaign contributions, including $55,000 in contributions to Governor Cuomo’s campaign and $43,499 to Rob Astorino, according to a new report by NPIRG.
"Casinos prey on working people and depend on gambling addicts and problem gamblers for their high profits," noted Hawkins. "Cuomo wants tax cuts for his wealthy contributors, so he pushes gambling instead to raise needed state revenues."
Cuomo claimed he wanted to ban political contributions from casino interests when he announced his program to expand casino gambling in New York, but the legislature quietly removed that provision from the bill and Cuomo signed it anyway. NYPIRG reports that the Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature received over $468,000 in contributions to their campaign committees.
Casinos have a business model based on addiction and indebtedness. Studies show that between 40-60% of slot machine profits are taken from citizens who have become problem gamblers.
While Cuomo claims that casinos will increase state revenue, but the PewCenter on the States reports that legalized gambling has not produced the levels of local or state revenue promised by gambling promoters. Atlantic City in New Jersey is floundering due to increased competition from nearby states which have legalized gambling. TrumpPlaza recently announced it will close in September. Hawkins, a long time opponent of casinos, pointed out that gambling revenues nationwide have been flat since 2007 while the number of casinos has exploded to about 900. Last week Moody’s concluded that “U.S. consumers will continue to limit their spending to items more essential than gaming, even as the U.S. economy continues to improve," viewing the recent decline as ”fundamental downward shift” in demand.
Hawkins said that creating more casinos in New York is "another way Cuomo and Astorino are working to shift the burden of paying for state services from the wealthy and Wall Street that can afford it, onto the backs of working people who are already struggling to make ends meet in this economy." Huge casino operations will also place a huge burden on local governments who will pay more for law enforcement, emergency services and infrastructure while the profits from the gambling will go to corporate coffers as far away as Malaysia.
"As Governor, I will ask the Legislature to repeal this act and stop the development of new casinos in New YorkState. New York needs the revenue, but we should raise taxes on the wealthy and stop rebating $14 billion annually to Wall Street speculators instead of enlisting the help of predatory corporations to fleece working people," added Hawkins.