New York Casino Gambling Amendment, Proposal 1 (2013)

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The New York Casino Gambling Amendment, Proposal 1, was on the November 5, 2013 ballot in New York as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. It was approved.

The measure allowed the legislature to authorize up to seven casinos in the state, specifically for stated purposes of promoting job growth, increasing funding to schools and permitting local governments to lower property taxes.[1]

State Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow (D-89) sponsored the measure in the state legislature as Assembly Bill 8068.[2]

Gov. Cuomo (D) and legislative leaders, while not transcribed into the amendment nor ballot measure language, agreed to a two phase expansion of casinos upon the measure's approval:[3]

  • Phase 1: Allow for the construction and running of four total casinos in upstate New York - two in the Catskills, one in the Southern Tier and one near Albany.
  • Phase 2: After seven years pass, allow for the construction and running of three casinos in New York City.

Prior to Proposal 1, gambling was constitutionally permitted in the state in the forms of state-run lotteries and pari-mutuel betting on horse races, commonly known as “racinos”, and federally permitted on American Indian tribal lands. Furthermore, an agreement between the state and Oneida Indian Nation gave the tribe a monopoly on casinos in 10 counties in Central New York.[4]

The measure's language was controversial and resulted in a prominent controversy and lawsuit.[5]

Election results

Below are the official election results:

Proposal 1
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 1,579,755 57.11%
No1,186,27542.89%
These results are from the New York Board of Elections.

Text of measure

Ballot summary

The official ballot text read as follows:[6]

Authorizing Casino Gaming

The proposed amendment to section 9 of article 1 of the Constitution would allow the Legislature to authorize up to seven casinos in New York State for the legislated purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated. Shall the amendment be approved? [7]

Constitutional changes

Proposal 1 amended Article I, Section 9, subdivision 1 of the Constitution of New York to read:[8]

No law shall be passed abridging the rights of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government, or any department thereof; nor shall any divorce be granted otherwise than by due judicial proceedings; except as hereinafter provided, no lottery or the sale of lottery tickets, pool-selling, book-making, or any other kind of gambling, except lotteries operated by the state and the sale of lottery tickets in connection therewith as may be authorized and prescribed by the legislature, the net proceeds of which shall be applied exclusively to or in aid or support of education in this state as the legislature may prescribe, and except pari-mutual betting on horse races as may be prescribed by the legislature and from which the state shall derive a reasonable revenue for the support of government, and except casino gambling at no more than seven facilities as authorized and prescribed by the legislature shall hereafter be authorized or allowed within this state; and the legislature shall pass appropriate laws to prevent offenses against any of the provisions of this section.

Fiscal note

On October 2, 2013, the New York State Division of the Budget released a report detailing estimated revenue allocation that would be created by the measure. They estimated that the total statewide fiscal impact would be $430 million annually, including $238 million in school aid and tax relief. According to the report, regional fiscal impacts would be distributed as follows:[9]

Proposal 1
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Article I, Section 9
Referred by:New York Legislature
Topic:Gambling
Status:Approved Approveda
The regional fiscal impacts are as follows:
  • Western New York/Finger Lakes: $93.1 million annually
  • North Country: $16.8 million annually
  • Central New York/Mohawk Valley: $44.2 million annually
  • Eastern Southern Tier: $20.1 million annually (includes $6.4 million in host county aid)
  • Capital Region: $35.5 million annually (includes $11.4 million in host county aid)
  • Catskill/Hudson Valley: $51.0 million annually (includes $13.7 million in host county aid)
  • New York City: $94.4 million annually
  • Long Island: $63.3 million annually
  • A potential fourth destination gaming resort would provide an additional $11.7 million annually to counties in one of the eligible Upstate gaming regions.

[7]

See also: list of distribution of revenues by state, region and county

Background

In 2010, State Senator John Bonacic (R-42) introduced a measure into the state legislature to allow three casinos in Sullivan County, New York. The measure was not sent to the ballot due to a lack of vote before the legislative session ended. Sen. Bonacic stated the necessity of the measure was due to an economic downturn and a lack of tourism in the region.

Between 2005 and June 2012, the gambling industry, specifically those who are not present owners of property within the state, spent $9.3 million on lobbying the state government and $1.2 million on campaign contributions to government officials.[10][11]

Commentators noted that foes with strong financial backing have remained quiet or absent from the debate. In 1997, the last time the state seriously considered legalizing casinos, Donald Trump, who owns multiple casinos in Atlantic City, helped break up the attempts.[12][13]

Support

Vote Yes for Prop 1 Logo.jpg

The measure was sponsored by Assemblyman Pretlow (D-89) and was approved by the New York legislature on June 21, 2013.[8] Gov. Andrew Cuomo is also a major supporter of the measure and was key in the crafting of the amendment's original language.[14]

Vote Yes for Prop 1 was a citizen coalition aiding the campaign in support of the measure.[15] NY Jobs Now was a business and labor coalition aiding the campaign in support of Proposal 1.[16]

Supporters

Officials

Former officials

Organizations

  • Vote Yes for Prop 1[29]
  • Vote YES for NYS Gaming Amendment
  • New York Jobs Now[30]
  • Ulster Needs Nevele[31]
  • New York State Business Council[32]
  • New York Gaming Association[33]
  • American Gaming Association[29]
  • Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development[20]
  • The Catskills Concord Project[29]
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 363[34]
  • Hudson Valley Building & Construction Trades Council[29]
  • The New York Hotel Trades Council[29]
  • Central & Northern New York Building Trades Council<cityunions/>
  • Western New York Building Trades Council[26]
  • New York State AFL-CIO[21]
  • Central New York Area Labor Federation
  • SEIU Local 200United
  • Amherst Chamber of Commerce[26]
  • Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce[35]

Individuals

The following individuals were on the leadership commission of New York Jobs Now:[23]

  • J. Patrick Barrett, CEO of CARPAT Investments
  • Heather C. Briccetti, President and CEO of The Business Council of New York State
  • James W. Cahill, President of the New York State Building & Construction Trades Council
  • Mario Cilento, President of the New York State AFL-CIO
  • Michael J. Falcone, Chairman Emeritus & Founder, The Pioneer Companies
  • Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York
  • Kevin S. Law, President and CEO of the Long Island Association
  • Richard S. Lefrak, Chairman, President and CEO of the LeFrak Organization
  • Adam E. Madkour, CEO of the Saratoga Spring Water Company
  • Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers
  • Thurman Thomas, President and CEO of Thurman Thomas Sports Training
  • Peter Ward, President of the New York Hotel Trades Council

Arguments


An advertisement in support of Proposal 1 paid for by the NY Jobs Now Committee.

The Vote Yes on Prop 1 campaign listed the following reasons for why the measure should be approved:[36]

  • As of June 2013, 2,900 people in Sullivan County, NY were unemployed. A new casino there would create 2,600 jobs of various skill levels and opportunities. Furthermore, an additional 1,200 indirect jobs would be created in the region.
  • Tax revenues from casinos will provide tax relief to landowners and increase education funding.
  • Quoting an academic article, the campaign suggests, “In three of four cases, rural counties that adopted casino gaming experienced increases in household and payroll employment. This seems to hold even though casino employment is dispersed over several counties rather than just the home county.”
  • Citing the American Gaming Association’s “A Survey of Attitudes of Casino Industry Employees”, the campaign notes that 85% of the nation’s gaming employees find their jobs satisfying.

Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy (D) stated the following points in support of the measure:[17]

  • If passed, the referendum will create 10,000 jobs.
  • The four upstate casinos will generate a total revenue of $1 billion. Of that, $430 million would go to schools and local governments across the state.
  • Addressing the opposition's observation that social-economic costs will likely outweigh economic benefits, he argued that the state would, in such an occurrence, increase taxes on the casinos to deal with these costs.

State Senator John J. Bonacic (R-42) listed the following reasons to approve the referendum:[37]

  • “New Yorkers are already spending money on gambling and entertainment; it is just being spent out of state.”
  • “There is no question that gambling can increase societal problems. Unemployment, though, creates far more problems. Unemployment leads to poverty, domestic abuse, homelessness and addiction. Unemployment and underemployment are the greatest problem facing families in the Catskills and upstate New York today.”
  • “[T]he vast majority of money spent in Las Vegas is spent on things other than casino gaming. Far more tourism dollars flow to hotels, retail sales, shows, restaurants and wellness than go into slot machines.”
  • “If two casinos are sited in the Catskills, more than 2,000 permanent jobs will be created along with over $1.5 billion in capital investment. The spin-off effect will create jobs in other tourism-related businesses. I also believe it will increase home values in the area. That is overwhelmingly positive change for an area in need of help.”
  • “Jobs at casino resort facilities are generally both unionized and provide health care benefits. That means a single mother struggling to work two jobs now can earn more at just one job at a casino resort – with benefits on top of that.”

Other arguments for the measure included:

  • Business Council President Heather Briccetti said, “New Yorkers spend more than three billion dollars a year at destination casinos in other states. It’s about time we bring that kind of money home to create jobs, support schools, and take property tax pressure off towns and cities."[38]
  • Casinos would provide much needed revenues after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 which caused $42 billion dollars in damages and increased the state’s deficit.[39]
  • Adolfo Carrion of the Independence Party stated that an individual has the choice to gamble or not and that their individual addictions should not affect the rights of others to gamble.[28]
  • Part of the state’s plan to deal with problem gambling is to require new casinos to set up self-exclusion policies whereby an individual can ban oneself from casinos and the ban is enforced by the casinos.[40]
  • Responding to concerns put forward by art and entertainment non-profits, Cuomo's administration said that private casinos in New York will be required to partner with local arts organizations rather than compete with them.[41]
  • Ron Haney, Vice President of the Central & Northern New York Building Trades Council, expressed frustration at the thought of Proposal 1 not passing. He said, "Our members are sick of traveling out of state to get jobs. Those are the jobs we're looking for. It's all good stuff."[21]

Campaign contributions

Supporters of Proposal 1 raised approximately $4,214,693. With only two weeks left before the election, donors started contributing money to the New York Jobs Now Committee PAC.

The following data was obtained from the New York State Board of Elections. The following were committees registered in support of Proposal 1:[42]

PAC info:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
Nevele Proposition 1 Committee $327,404 $327,404
New York Jobs Now Committee $4,214,693 $4,215,135
Total $4,542,097 $4,542,539

Top 6 contributors:

Donor Amount
Genting New York LLC $500,000
Yonkers Racing & Entertainment LLC $500,000
Nevele Investors LLC $327,404
Hotel Workers for a Stronger Middle Class $270,000
American Racing & Entertainment LLC $250,000
Saratoga Harness Racing, Inc. $250,000

Opposition

Associated Press described opponents as an “unusual coalition” of “conservatives and liberals” with “few resources.”[43] The New York Times further described the opposition as a "ragtag array of religious conservatives who associate gambling with social ills, liberal intellectuals who see gambling as a form of regressive taxation, and skeptics who believe that Mr. Cuomo has overstated the economic promise of his casino plan."[44]

Opponents

Officials

Former officials

  • Former State Representative Edward C. Sullivan (D-69)[46]
  • Bill Johnson (D), former mayor of Rochester[47]

Organizations

  • Conservative Party of New York[22]
  • Coalition Against Gambling in New York[48]
  • Get Gambling out of Government[49]
  • New York Council on Problem Gambling[40]
  • No Saugerties Casinos[50]
  • Institute for American Values[51]
  • New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms[44]
  • Catskill Mountainkeeper[52]
  • New York State Catholic Conference[53][54]
  • Upper New York United Methodist Church[55]
  • Network of Religious Communities
  • Cayuga Nation of New York[56]

Individuals

  • Earl Grinols, distinguished professor of economics at Baylor University and author of Gambling in America: Costs and Benefits[57]
  • Andrew Dietsche, Episcopal Bishop[58]

Arguments


Institute for American Values interviewed Former Rochester Mayor William Johnson (D) about his opposition to casino development.

David Blankenhorn of the Institute for American Values argued against the amendment for the following reasons:[47][59][60]

  • “There’s not a single independent study that shows casinos contribute to economic growth. Because they don’t create anything of value, and they divert energy, time and money from the productive to the non productive sectors of society.”

  • Regional casinos disproportionately attract low-income residents, retirees and low-wage workers who have the least disposable income to spend gambling. “The very people who we need to be helping to gain ground in society instead of preying upon them in this way,” he said.
  • Blankenhorn claims there is no evidence supporting Gov. Cuomo’s suggestion that tourists will be the main customers, saying, “Most people who frequent casinos live near those casinos. And living near a casino increases your chances - and your neighbors’ and your family members’ chances - of becoming a frequent or problem gambler.”
  • Citing ‘‘Gambling in America’’ by Earl Grinols, Blankenhorn states that “for every dollar generated [for] the state through gambling, there are more than two dollars of social costs in terms of the problems generated.”
  • Blankenhord notes that “[Casinos] produce nothing of value. If somebody opens a tire store, they make tires. If somebody opens a donut shop, they sell donuts. Casinos produce nothing.” Quoting former governor Mario Cuomo (D), he said, “Casinos don’t produce wealth, they just redistribute it.” Casinos are a regressive institution that redistributes money from the poor and elderly to the casino owners.
  • There’s only one reason that Governor Cuomo and the legislature want the expansion of gambling according to Blankenhord - “Money. This is about money for the government. It’s about money that the politicians don’t have to call a tax.”

Dave Colavito of CAGNY provided the following criticisms of the measure in four op-eds in the Huffington Post:

  • Gov. Cuomo has stated casinos will create tourist destinations. Colavito responded, “Destination resorts don’t require a casino (Disneyland, anyone?).” There are alternative methods for promoting tourism and growth.[61]
  • Addressing the plan for seven casinos, he wrote, “What will those three casinos that eventually open in the NYC metro area do to upstate economies?”[61]
  • He also pointed out that the construction of casinos will use public tax subsides, “[W]hy would investors build upstate casinos they know would have to compete directly with those in the NYC metro area?” The answer, he believes, is government subsidization.[61]
  • He criticized the measure for establishing an environment unfavorable to children, writing, “Voters can decide for themselves whether Gambling for Education in New York is really code for Education in Support of Gambling, and whether they want more of what the carnival is selling -- for the kids, always for the kids.” He cites findings from the 2006 OASAS School Survey, which noted, “Approximately 10 percent of students in grades 7-12 have experienced problem gambling in the past year and may need treatment services. An additional 10 percent of students may be at risk of developing problem gambling.”[62]
  • Cuomo and supporters are not taking into account "The legal, economic, and medical fallout from their wrecked lives -- and those of their families, friends, and business relationships."[63]
  • Citing an academic article by two economists, he claimed that “casino gambling is a social issue because, in addition to the direct benefits to those who own and operate casinos, benefits are reaped and costs are borne by people who don't gamble.”[63]
  • He noted that "The increase in addictive behavior goes up when you increase the opportunity for people to engage in that behavior [referring to casino gaming]."[64]
  • Discussing the median wages for casino employment jobs, Colavito said, "The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies employment positions providing services such as: casino slot supervisors, gaming managers, table game dealers, and other gaming service workers, as Gaming Services Occupations. According to the BLS's Occupational Outlook Handbook, the minimum educational requirement for Gaming Services Occupations is a high school diploma or equivalent, and the median wage, adjusted to 2012 dollars, paid to workers providing those services was about $21,300, nationally. Closer to home, BLS reports the median wages in 2012 paid in NYS to: gaming dealers, gaming and sports book writers and runners, gaming change persons and booth cashiers, and gaming cage workers, as $25,880, $28,060, $24,680, and $23,930 respectively."[65]
  • Colavito noted that the projected $430 million annual property tax relief and education aid to 15 million adults in New York is less than $30 per person.[66]

Natasha Dow Schull, Associate Professor of Science, Technology and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, stated that slot machines are designed to addict gamblers in the following ways:[67]

  • “[A] Brown University psychiatrist, Robert Breen, [has] found that individuals who regularly play slots become addicted three to four times faster (in one year, versus three and a half years) than those who play cards or bet on sports.”
  • “They are after “time on device,” to use the gambling industry’s term for a mode of machine gambling that is less about risk and excitement than about maintaining a hypnotic flow of action – a mode that is especially profitable for casinos.”
  • “Gambling industry leaders insist that addiction resides in people, not inanimate machines. Yet they invest a great deal of money and energy in the effort to influence consumers’ behavior through technology design. To take the title of one panel at an industry trade show, their aim is to “Build a Better Mousetrap.” Surely, civic leaders looking to close budget gaps can find more ethical alternatives than capitalizing on such traps.”

Ramsay Adams of Catskill Mountainkeeper listed three primary concerns about casinos in the Catskills:[52]

  • Firstly, the environmental impact of casino development has been little discussed. He elaborated, "Huge, Las Vegas-sized complexes would forever change the rural landscape and dramatically alter our Main Streets. A study by Sam Schwartz Engineering in 2006 showed Route 17 is already at capacity, as are other roadways. We also want to protect the region’s nearby watershed, which casino-related developments may threaten."
  • Secondly, he reiterated the concern of addiction and crime, as other opponents have pointed out.
  • Thirdly, Adams approached the subject of economic development. He continued, "Anyone who’s been to Atlantic City knows that the good times haven’t come to that resort city. Walk a block or two away from the blackjack table and you’ll find some of the poorest neighborhoods in America. So gambling’s hardly the panacea many local politicians think it is... [Our goal is] to promote smarter, more sustainable economic development for the Catskills."

Other arguments against the measure included:

  • Former State Representative Edward C. Sullivan (D-69) described casinos as a “tax on the poor.” He continues, “Of course, those lower income family members who gamble at casinos are getting something for their money — a kind of entertainment. And they're getting the prospect — or illusion — of striking it rich. If you're poor, working in a dead-end, low-income job, that prospect is not nothing. But actually, that prospect — that illusion -— is less than nothing, because it costs money. It could cost a family making, let's say $30,000, 10 percent of its gross income, or more, if they gamble regularly — not pathologically, but regularly... Exploiting the addiction to pipe dreams of the poor is one of the worst ways to raise money for state expenses.”[46]
  • Joel Rose of CAGNY stated, "You'll have impoverishment of host communities. You'll have lives wrecked. And you'll have an increase in crime, especially a few years down the road when people who have become addicted to gambling run out of their legitimate sources of money."[68]
  • Most of the employment created will be short-term construction jobs or low-wage service jobs, such as waiters and janitors.[69]
  • The state is not providing a fair revenue-sharing arrangement with municipalities around future casinos. Towns where casinos are based will receive the most revenue, while other localities near the casinos will not.[64]
  • Business Journalist for TIME, Brad Tuttle, reported that casinos are reaching a saturation point. Tuttle, quoting a gaming analyst, wrote, “Many markets are seeing a point of saturation. New casinos... are just cannibalizing the existing market.” In September, a panel of gaming executives in Las Vegas established a consensus view that there are very few places in the U.S. worth building a new casino. There are 55 casinos in the Northeast, including 12 in Atlantic City and 11 in Pennsylvania.[30][70]
  • State-sanctioned casinos may breed political corruption. Former Governor David Paterson (D) and legislative leaders appeared to rig the bidding process for “racinos” to a politically-wired firm.[71]
  • Chris Silva of the Bardavon Opera House said, “Casinos can easily have a monopoly on the available artists to book because they pay more. Every one of those artists plays casinos and would have played a casino in our area instead of us.”[72]

Opponents have used statements by popular former state leaders to define some aspects of their campaign. Here is a video of New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia (R) smashing and disposing of slot-machines found on an opposing organization’s website.

  • The Conservative Party acknowledged broken promises from previous gaming and gambling laws. They stated, “Casino gambling will produce new problems as evidenced in the areas where casinos are currently located... In 1966, the Legislature told New York citizens, if they approved the lottery, their school taxes would be reduced. Every year school taxes go up.”[30]

"Smashing Party"

On October 15, 2013, casino gambling opponents brought a slot machine to the front of the New York State Capital. There the opponents took turns smashing the machine with a sledgehammer. Blankenhorn of the IAV, who was in attendance, noted that their side HAD very little money to advertise their message. The “smashing party” was an attempt to publicize their position and condemn “what these machines do,” referring to research on the psychological affects of slot machines. A photograph of New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia (R) was at the event. LaGuardia is famous for smashing slot machines, which he called “mechanical pickpockets,” as a message to city residents decrying gambling.[73]

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of New York ballot measures, 2013

Support

  • The Buffalo News said, "Here is the fact about casino gambling: It’s here, and it’s here to stay. It’s in New York – including Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Salamanca – and it’s in the states and provinces around us. The proposed constitutional amendment to expand gambling in New York is, thus, less than it appears. New Yorkers should approve the amendment, however reluctantly."[74]
  • The Citizen said, "So as much as we continue to be irked by the way this ballot question is being asked, it's ultimately our conclusion that the right choice is to check the "yes" box on election day."[75]
  • The Herald-Leader said, “Despite some of the controversies surrounding Gov. Andrew Cuomo's casino gambling referendum, voters in Fulton and Montgomery counties should vote yes on the proposal.... If the aim of the ballot measure truly is economic development, our two local counties likely would enjoy a noticeable economic gain from a casino.”[76]
  • New York Daily News said, “These are no sure bets, and the governor was wrong to allow onto the ballot a question whose language loads the dice to suggest wonderful benefits and no negative consequences. But if New Yorkers are going to gamble anyway, they might as well keep any potential revenues in their home state.”[77]
  • Post Star said, "While we don’t expect casino gambling to have nearly as big an impact, it will add another attraction to what is already a crowded dance card. Voters should approve of casino gambling when they go to the polls."[78]
  • Rochester Democrat and Chronicle said, "With safeguards in place, new casinos hold potential to transform depressed upstate regions that host them, and to infuse municipalities across the state with sorely needed revenue... this proposition’s passage would provide a needed jolt to the upstate economy. The electorate should vote “yes,” and state leaders should further refine their plans to allay concerns."[79]
  • Star-Gazette said, "We believe the positive impact on economic development outweighs any concern over [a] potential increase in gambling addiction among state residents... With that boost to the economy and tax dollars in mind, we say bring on the new casinos by voting “yes” to the constitutional amendment."[80]

Opposition

  • Adirondack Daily Enterprise said, "Vote no to Proposal 1... This might be a tough call if we were just weighing the pros and cons of casinos - tax revenue and jobs vs. gambling addiction and crime - but we're also looking at who's asking, why and how. Gambling interests have given $361,500 to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's election campaign war chest and more than $1 million to those of legislators in the last two years... This is, to be frank, corrupt, and state leaders deserve a reprimand from the electorate to prevent them from trying this kind of thing again."[81]
  • Albany Times Union said, "Because notwithstanding all the grand promises that have been made, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — to stop the governor and Legislature from using the hundreds of millions of dollars that are projected to come in from casinos — that is, from their middle- and lower-income patrons — to underwrite the tax cuts Mr. Cuomo has told his wealthy donors are coming soon. Because notwithstanding the hype, casinos have one goal: to separate New Yorkers from their money."[82]
  • The Daily News said, “But in a nutshell, creating these casinos is not in New York’s best long-term interest; voters should reject that proposed amendment.”[83]
  • Livingston County News said, “Trying to build a robust economy on the addictive lure of luck is wrong. State officials must find alternate ways to market New York’s assets and bring in tourist dollars. On Election Day, voters must send a message of strong disapproval for this cynical move by denying the proposed amendment on casinos.”[84]
  • New York Post said, "Our view is that New York has enough casinos, and more will just increase crime, bankruptcies and gambling addiction. In fact, the best way to understand casinos is as a tax on those who can afford them least... New Yorkers deserve an honest ballot question on this. Instead, we’ve been given a stacked deck."[85]
  • New York Times said, "Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature now want to expand gambling by putting a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 5 ballot that would add seven full-blown casinos.... There is plenty of evidence that more casinos will simply do more damage. Voters should reject the constitutional amendment."[86]
  • Sheepshead Bites said, "But the question is how many of the people at the casino will be problem gamblers? And are there enough “healthy” gamblers to sufficiently subsidize their problems as well as leave enough revenue for other spending?... no one can answer that question. Which is why every voter should say “No” when casino expansion is on the ballot this November. Our legislators can always go back to the table and do their due diligence on our behalf, and offer us a more detailed referendum. Casinos can always come later."[87]
  • Utica Observer-Dispatch said, "This amendment should be soundly defeated — not only because it would create more opportunities for destructive behavior, but because those looking to hit the jackpot — politicians and their sugar daddies — have stacked the deck in the house’s favor. Don’t let them bluff you... Don’t be duped by the politicians’ rosy language that skews what should be an objective amendment question. This is a poisoned Happy Meal. Reject it."[88]
  • Watertown Daily Times said, "Trying to build a robust economy on the addictive lure of luck is wrong. State officials must find alternate ways to market New York’s assets and bring in tourist dollars. On Election Day, voters must send a message of strong disapproval for this cynical move by denying the proposed amendment on casinos."[89]

Neutral

  • The Observer deemed the measure a "mixed bag," saying, "The utter mixed bag that is casino gaming is why we are lukewarm on the proposal. It is an admitted money grab made palatable only because state residents have grabbed the money before in allowing Native American casinos."[90]

Other opinions

See also: New York, Proposal 1 (2013), Measure Language Controversy and Lawsuit
  • Times Herald-Record, critiquing the judge's ruling in Snyder v. Walsh, said, "Nevertheless, the judge threw out that challenge as well, ruling that a deadline is a deadline. That's a precedent that somebody needs to revisit. If not, the state and other governments may be tempted to keep more secrets until it's too late to object, knowing that a judge found nothing wrong with this practice once, and that others might be tempted to rule the same way."[91]
  • Utica Observor-Dispatch, critiquing the lack of transparency of government's involvement in writing ballot measures, said, “Favorable language was able to make its way into November’s proposed constitutional amendment on casino gambling because there is no public vetting of the process. That needs to change because the lack of transparency opens the door to political maneuvering — and that’s an assault on taxpayers.”[92]
  • New York Times, in opposition to the ballot's wording and in support of the ballot language lawsuit, said, "Gov. Andrew Cuomo and most members of the Legislature are strongly in favor of these casinos. But they do not have the right to skew the language on the ballot, as they have contrived to do, in a way that tips the scales in favor of a pro-gambling outcome... Judge Platkin should rule in Mr. Snyder’s favor, let the case go forward and then order that neutral, straightforward language be restored to the ballot."[93]
  • Poughkeepsie Journal, in opposition to the ballot's wording, said, "Though such overtones are apparently legal, the state is making a mockery of fair and even government. Nowhere in this glowing assessment about casinos are concerns opponents might have about gambling addiction, about the impact on local roads, government services and schools, etc. In actuality, no one should expect to go into a voting booth and read reams of information on a referendum that cite the pros and cons of an issue. Voters should research the issue before heading into the booth. The language in this referendum is a stunning example why."[94]
  • The Citizen, in opposition to the ballot’s wording, said, "Ballot questions are supposed to be worded carefully to not try to influence the outcome. An informed electorate should be trusted to do its homework and understand the possible consequences of the choices. It's troubling that this principle was not followed with potentially the most divisive question to be put before New York state voters."[95]
  • The Journal News, in opposition to the ballot's wording, said, "Gov. Andrew Cuomo has heavily pitched the gaming expansion, touting the jobs — and tax revenue — that will be created. That’s fine. But the ballot measure itself shouldn’t be making the pitch for passage."[96]

Polls

See also: Polls, 2013 ballot measures

In September 2013, the Siena Research Institute of Siena College released a poll that asked 807 voters if they support or opposed Proposal 1. Respondents were asked two questions, a simple support or opposition question and the actual ballot question. Previously, respondents were only asked the simple support or opposition question. The institute repeated the two questions in October 2013 and found support increasing for both questions, but continued to find a disparity between a simple yes-or-no question and the exact measure language.

First Question:

Do you support or oppose passing an amendment to the state constitution to allow non-Indian, Las Vegas style casinos to be built in New York?[7]

Second Question:

The proposed amendment to section 9 of article 1 of the Constitution would allow the Legislature to authorize up to seven casinos in New York State for the legislated purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated. Shall the amendment be approved?[7]
New York Proposal 1 - Support v. Opposition
Poll Support OppositionUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Global Strategy Group
January 26-30, 2013
44%50%6%+/-4.0804
Siena Research Institute
March 3-7, 2013
46%43%11%+/-3.5803
Quinnipac University Polls
May 29-June 3, 2013
51%39%10%+/-3.01,075
Siena Research Institute
June 9-13, 2013
49%40%11%+/-3.9804
Siena Research Institute
August 4-7, 2013
49%42%9%+/-3.4814
Siena Research Institute - "Yes or No" Question (dead link)
September 22-26, 2013
46%46%8%+/-3.0807
Siena Research Institute - Exact Ballot Question (dead link)
September 22-26, 2013
52%42%3%+/-3.0807
Siena Research Institute - "Yes or No" Question
October 14-216, 2013
49%45%6%+/-3.4822
Siena Research Institute - Exact Ballot Question
October 14-16, 2013
56%40%4%+/-3.4822
AVERAGES 49.11% 43% 7.56% +/-3.4 839.78
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

Reactions

See also: New York, Proposal 1 (2013), Measure Language Controversy and Lawsuit

In September 2013, the Siena Research Center of Siena College released polling data for both a generalized question on authorizing casino gambling and the specific ballot question that will appear in November. There was a notable difference in support and opposition between the two results. Pollster Steven Greenberg of the Siena Research Institute said in reaction, “Clearly, the wording on the ballot for the casino amendment matters. When voters are asked a generic casino gambling amendment question they are evenly divided, with New York City voters opposed and downstate suburban voters and upstaters mildly supportive. However, when voters were provided the specific wording they will see on the ballot, a majority of voters from every region and from every party say ‘yes,’ they would approve the casino amendment.”[97] Critics of the ballot’s language have argued that this data confirms their viewpoint that the text’s language is skewed to encourage support.[98] The poll was cited in a lawsuit against the ballot's wording.

Reports and analyses

Coalition Against Gambling in New York

Dave Colavito and Stephen Q. Shafer of the Coalition Against Gambling in New York, opponents of the proposal, published an analysis of the amendment’s possible effects using quantitative and comparative methods. They noted that the pathological social and financial costs of gaming will affect county budgets. The funding prescribed under the amendment to address social problems was, from their standpoint, “a token that would do little.” The treatment plan established in the amendment would provide an estimated $1 per adult while the costs of treatment will rise to $296 per adult. By comparing estimates for state taxes on casino revenues, they concluded that taxpayers would receive less property tax relief and education funding than had been suggested.[99]

To read the full report, see here

Institute for American Values

Why Casinos Matter

The Council on Casinos of the Institute for American Values published a literature review of studies from the health and social sciences regarding casinos and gambling. While not specifically targeting Proposal 1, the IAV and other opponents have utilized the recently published study in their campaign against the proposal. The institute concludes with thirty-one social, economic, political and intellectual propositions. The social impacts include addiction and damages to families and communities. The economic impacts of casinos are negative, according to the study. They withdraw more wealth from communities than they create, weaken nearby businesses, and hurt property values. The political impacts of casinos corrupt the state in which the state is charged with both protecting the public and protecting practices that hurt the public, but generate revenue. The intellectual impacts include sponsorship of studies aiming to focus on individual pathologies, rather than social ills caused by the structure and practices of casinos. They conclude that attempting economic development through casinos is "unethical."[100]

To read the full report, see here

New York's Promise

Written by David Blankenhord, the organization’s president, the documented report attempts to identify the “entire corpus of substantive analysis that, to date, has been cited or presented to the public by Governor Cuomo.” Blankenhord’s findings consist of a blank page, noting that no social research or independent analyses have supported the governor’s claims. On the contrary, such research demonstrates the opposite. He contrasts the current governor to his father and former governor Mario Cuomo, who held that casino gambling violated the state’s principles. Furthermore, he analyzes “failed” economic development policies based on gambling in other states, such as Mississippi.

To read the full report, see here

Partnership for the Public Good

Partnership for the Public Good, an advocacy organization based in Buffalo, New York, produced an analysis of the economic affects of the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino. A review of academic literature and the small amount of local empirical evidence available is conducted by the authors. They conclude that casinos are a negative form of economic development that create more burdens than opportunities. Firstly, any reductions in poverty amongst the Seneca Nation, who own the casino, will be offset by increases in poverty around the casino. Secondly, the casino will cause social problems, such as crime and mental illness. Thirdly, casinos destroy more jobs than they create. Fourthly, the jobs that casinos do create pay low wages.

To read the full report, see here

Related lawsuits

New York Constitution
Seal of New York.png
Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXIIXIIIXIVXVXVIXVIIXVIIIXIXXX

Snyder vs. Walsh

See also: New York, Proposal 1 (2013), Measure Language Controversy and Lawsuit

On October 2, 2013, Eric J. Snyder, a lawyer from Brooklyn, filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court of the State of New York related to the ballot language controversy. Snyder asked the court to make state officials rewrite the ballot measure's language. He argued that the New York Board of Elections overstepped its authority when approving the seemingly skewed ballot language. Citing the September Siena Poll as evidence, he claimed, “[The ballot language] is partisan, and it is having an effect. And that’s not the government’s role.” Snyder also noted that the Board of Elections did not vote publicly to change the ballot question on July 29, thus violating the Open Meetings Law. The board denied this was in violation of the law. Co-chairman of the Board of Elections, Douglas Kellner, responded calling these changes “minor revisions” to the “official text” provided by the Attorney General’s Office. On October 11, New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) joined the lawsuit in support of Snyder. The Board of Elections contended that the lawsuit should have been filed before the August 19 deadline to sue. However, reporters have pointed out that the rewording wasn’t posted until August 23. The board blamed "logistics" and an employee for this error. Judge Richard Platkin heard the lawsuit on October 11, 2013.[101][102][103][104][5][93]

Judge Platkin dismissed the case on October 16, 2013 based on untimeliness and legal merit.[105]

Snyder stated that he would file an immediate challenge to an appellate court on October 16, 2013.[106] On October 17, Snyder issued a statement saying he decided not to challenge the ruling after all.[107]

Town of Verona et al. vs. Cuomo

Note: The lawsuit title was based on the filing of the petitioner. It was not an official name and may change if and when taken up by the courts.

The towns of Verona and Vernon in Oneida County decided to sue the state government. The towns filed their case in the Supreme Court of the State of New York. The towns claimed that the state did not have the authority to establish an agreement between the municipalities and the Oneida Indian Nation without their consent.

In May 2013, the State of New York and the Oneida Indian Nation reached an agreement on the tribe’s casinos and related tax issues. Part of the agreement was that no casinos would be built in the 10-county Central New York region. The state agreed to cap the tribe’s tax exempt land trust at 25,000 acres, thus invalidating the towns' abilities to levy property taxes on exempted land.[108] The tribe agreed to “support any referendum authorized by the state Legislature... to permit or authorize casino gaming” and that the tribe would not “directly or indirectly” pose any challenge to the referendum. This, according to the towns, was an attempt by Gov. Cuomo (D) to “vote-buy” or quell major opposition to the measure from the tribe, who has fought non-tribal casino construction in the past.[109][110]

On October 30, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Kahn said that his court lacked jurisdiction and remanded the case to a state court in Albany.[111]

Controversies

Ballot wording controversy

See also: New York, Proposal 1 (2013), Measure Language Controversy and Lawsuit

Following the state's release of the measure's language, concerns were raised over whether or not the amendment's phrasing encourages voters to approve it. Those critics included Journalist Eleanor Randolph, Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group, Gerald Benjamin, a political science professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, and Stephen Quentin Shafer, chairman of the Coalition Against Gambling in New York. Blair Horner said that the question had "more spin than a roulette wheel." The New York Board of Elections stated that it merely approves language already worked out by the measure's authors, suggesting that responsibility lies elsewhere.[112][14]

Critics said the spin was instigated by leaders in the legislature and Governor Cuomo (D). Shafer said, "The deceptive wording of this amendment on the ballot and the advancement of this late entry to 'number one' position are obvious moves to misinform and bias voters... New Yorkers deserve better from our legislative leaders." Critics pointed out that the property tax breaks and school aid mentioned in the ballot summary aren't actually in the amendment and sound more like advocacy. Benjamin said, "This one seems particularly heavily spun. I don't think there's anything illegal about it... it's OK, but I don't think it's good." Benjamin also added that it is possible that some group could sue over the wording, but it is unlikely. He said that an objective presentation of an issue to voters is not required by election law or the constitution.[14]

Governor Cuomo (D) said he had nothing to do with the proposal's language. Addressing reporters, Cuomo stated, "I haven’t studied the language to tell you the truth. I’m aware of the commentary, but I’m also aware there’s commentary on everything.”[103]

Anti-corruption commission member

An ally of Governor Cuomo (D), J. Patrick Barrett, the CEO of CARPAT Investments, was one of twenty-five commissioners on the Moreland Commission. This commission’s responsibilities include managing and eradicating corruption in the state’s political system. Barrett was also one of fifteen members in NY Jobs Now, which pushed for the passing of Proposal 1. Executive Director of Citizens Union Dick Dadey said, “Given the importance of the Moreland work, [Barrett] shouldn’t do both. You want the commission members to be as free of conflicts as possible.”[23]

Threats to legislators

It was publicized that Gov. Cuomo’s office threatened several legislators by warning that the governor would publicly humiliate them if they attempted to block the amendment. Rep. Phillip Goldfeder (D-23) stated that Howard Glaser, Cuomo’s director of state operations, summoned him to the governor’s office where he was berated and blackmailed for receiving campaign contributions from Genting New York, an operator of a “racino” in Queens. When Goldfeder told Glaser the amendment would hurt New York City, Glaser reportedly responded, “Stop shilling for Genting. This is what the plan is, and you better get on board.” Goldfeder ultimately voted for the amendment.[113]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the New York Constitution

According to the New York Constitution, a majority vote is required in two successive sessions of the New York State Legislature in order to qualify an amendment for the statewide ballot.

Proposal 1 was referred to the ballot after being approved by both houses in successive terms by simple majority. A9556 and A08068 were approved by the New York State Senate on March 14, 2012 and June 21, 2013, respectively.[114][115] A9556 and A08068 were approved by the New York State Assembly on March 14, 2013 and June 21, 2013, respectively.[116][117]

Senate vote

March 14, 2012 Senate vote

New York Proposal 1, A9556 Senate Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 36 100%
No00%


June 21, 2013 Senate vote

New York Proposal 1, A08068 Senate Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 55 87.30%
No812.70%

Assembly vote

March 14, 2012 Assembly vote

New York Proposal 1, A9556 Assembly Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 96 68.10%
No4531.90%


June 21, 2013 Assembly vote

New York Proposal 1, A08068 Assembly Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 110 78.57%
No3021.43%

Similar measures

See also

BP-Initials-UPDATED.png
Suggest a link

External links

Basic information

Support

Opposition

Additional reading

References

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  2. New York State Assembly, "Assembly Bill 8068," September 18, 2013
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