The Conservative Party believes that expanding casino gambling in New York State would ultimately hurt education funding. The following is our legislative memo outlining our concerns.
There is currently no specific bill language available, but a publicly-discussed proposal would provide for the authorization of commercial casino gambling in New York State.
The NYS Conservative Party is concerned that Governor Andrew Cuomo's views on expanding casino gambling in New York State focus on three areas in upstate New York, while not disclosing where the other four called for in the proposal will be located.
If Members of the Legislature allow this proposal to go forward and appear on November's ballot, shouldn't legislators require that the other four areas be outlined?
Will localities, either through referenda or a vote of its local government, have the opportunity to approve or reject a new casino in their community? Legislators should require this provision.
If the proposal goes forward, what will the impact be on existing gaming facilities? The state's nine existing racetrack casinos generate in excess of $3.8 billion for education, $815 million to support agribusiness and generate $26 million annually in direct and indirect aid and tax revenues for local government, while employing 6000 people. Gaming is already saturated, how will a new casino improve employment and revenue?
New York is dependent on the horse industry and the horse industry has only been able to survive because of the racetrack casinos. Currently 11% of net revenues support family farms, grain and feed producers, horsemen, breeders and others in the racing industry. The current proposal stipulates revenue from the new casinos be split with 90% for education and 10% for local government property tax relief (albeit both are necessary), but what will happen to the racing industry that needed the racetrack casinos to survive?
The current racetrack casinos pay an effective rate of 67% with 46% of total revenues dedicated to education. What rate will the new full-fledged casinos pay? The proposal is silent on what the percentage will be. The surrounding states, Connecticut and Massachusetts, tax their casinos at 25%, New York would have to match that rate (or lower it) to attract the industry. In doing so, the effective rate for education would drop to 22.5% (90% of the 25%) instead of the current 46%.
The Conservative Party strongly believes that expanding casino gambling is not beneficial to New Yorkers, reduces the amount education is currently receiving and ultimately increases the problems associated with problem gambling.
We urge the Members of the New York State Legislature to reject expanding casino gambling in New York State.