Monday, August 20, 2012

Losing Bet

When the trial balloon was floated about the possibility of a casino being placed over at Willets Point we pointed out-citing the work of Steve Malanga-all of the drawbacks; and one we highlighted was how gambling attracts, not only those addicted to it, but to those folks who can least afford to engage in the activity:

"The Tax Foundation argues that state lotteries represent one of the steepest of all taxes, since the government keeps an average of 42 percent of betting proceeds—far higher than the sales-tax rate that states would charge if the wagered money were spent on something else. The lottery tax is also hidden, since few people recognize it as a government levy. And the burden of this hidden tax is not equally distributed. Numerous studies have shown that lotteries tend to attract lower-income, less educated players, cutting significantly into personal income and private-sector spending in poorer neighborhoods. One recent study found that households with less than $12,000 per year in annual income spend 5 percent of it on the lottery. In part, lower-income households spend so much because they buy the aggressive advertising of state lotteries, which claims that participating in them will bring you riches."

Today in the NY Daily News the editors agree with this perspective:

"Pretty much every dollar that New York gained — thanks to upstate Indian-run casinos and state-sponsored video lottery racinos at horse tracks — was a dollar lost by neighboring states. Then came the opening of Resorts World at Aqueduct Race rack, the first casino-style gambling venue in the city. Its 2,500 video slots soon raked in $14 million a week — a spike that helped pushed the region’s gambling revenue beyond its previous high, in 2008.

Suddenly, quick, easy availability by subway, bus or car opened the way for nongambling New Yorkers to open their wallets and kiss their money goodbye

The News feels that this is not good public policy-and we agree. Whether in Willets Point, Coney Island or across the street from Speaker Silver's house, more gambling is a regressive tax on poor New Yorkers:

"So let’s be honest about what happens if the Legislature approves the casino amendment for a second time and voters ratify it in November 2013. New Yorkers would stay in New York to gamble and the number of gambling New Yorkers would rise sharply. And that’s not a good thing."