New York Casino Gambling Amendment, Proposal 1 (2013)

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Proposal 1
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Article I, Section 9
Referred by:New York Legislature
Topic:Gambling
Status:On the ballot
The New York Casino Gambling Amendment, Proposal 1, is on the November 5, 2013 ballot in New York as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.

The measure would allow casino gambling statewide. The measure would initially allow for four casinos in upstate New York, and another three in the New York City area after seven years.[1] Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow sponsored the measure in the legislature as Assembly Bill 8068.

Text of measure

Ballot summary

The official ballot text reads as follows:[2]

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? [3]

Constitutional changes

If approved, Proposal 1 would amend Article I, Section 9, subdivision 1 of the Constitution of New York to read:[4]

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.

Support

The measure was sponsored by Assemblyman Pretlow and was approved unanimously by the New York legislature in 2013.[4] Gov. Andrew Cuomo is also a major supporter of the measure and was key in the crafting of the amendment's language.[5]

Campaign controversy

Following the state's release of the measure's language, concerns have been raised over whether or not the amendment's phrasing encourages voters to approve it. Those critics include 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. The New York Board of Elections has state that it merely approves language already worked out by the measure's authors, suggesting that responsibility lies elsewhere.[5]

Critics say the spin was instigated by leaders in the legislature and Governor Cuomo, 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," he said. "New Yorkers deserve better from our legislative leaders." Critics also point 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.[5]

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of New York ballot measures, 2013

Other opinions

  • The Poughkeepsie Journal published an editorial on September 16, 2013, criticizing the measure's ballot language. In reference to the positive tone of the ballot question, the editorial 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."[6]

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 a measure for the statewide ballot.

The New York State Senate passed the amendment on June 4, 2013, with a vote of 63 to 0.[7] The New York State Assembly passed the amendment on March 18, 2013, with a vote of 141 to 0.[4]

New York Casino Gambling Amendment, S 8068 Senate Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 63 100%
No00%
New York Casino Gambling Amendment, S 8068 Assembly Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 141 100%
No00%


See also

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