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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Gambling Expansion Still Tabled.....For Now

Governor Paterson's budget proposal, which, yes, still actually represents an increase in spending despite the doomsday scenario we've been hearing for months, is light on gambling expansion. With respect to the state's existing racinos (and the big one yet to be built), it provides merely for an extension of hours.

The hour restrictions on the operation of VLT's would be eliminated. The elimination of these restrictions would allow the Division of the Lottery to set hours based on facility utilization. The VLT program is currently limited to operating no more than 16 hours a day, and prohibited from operating after 2:00 AM.
The proposal also lifts all restrictions as to who can sell Quick Draw lottery tickets, and for how long. The way I read it, your local street vendor could now set up a TV screen and sell tickets if they want.

Once you're stooping to counting on those who can't resist the lure of slots at 4:30 AM on a Tuesday morning, it's time to consider other ideas. Gambling revenues always involve a portion of the population who can't help themselves, a fact that many of us, including myself, conveniently overlook. But these new provisions seem designed to take advantage of the most vulnerable amongst us, and those least able to afford it. I personally find them shameful.

The budget document projects that the expanded racino hours will generate some $45 million a year in additional revenues....a sum that a racino at the Big A is projected to raise in around a month and a half, if it's ever approved and constructed.

So no, there's nothing here regarding table games at racinos. However, faced with the proposed cuts to education and healthcare, as well as unpopular tax increases (here's that sugary soda tax again!), I'd be quite surprised if that is not a topic of conversation between now and the budget deadline of April 1 (if the budget is actually finalized by then). And that's especially so given the fact that table games are coming to Pennsylvania and, in response, being considered anew in Delaware. Here's a typical comment from a Pennsylvania legislator, and how long before we hear the exact same words in Albany?
“This is a common sense, bipartisan piece of legislation that makes our gaming facilities more competitive, improves the public’s confidence in gaming, raises money we desperately need in these tough financial times, and – most importantly – helps put thousands of people to work in a brand-new industry." [Philadelphia Business Journal]
Whatsmore, have you guys heard those Mohegan Sun radio ads that taunt New Yorkers for only being able to play slots in their state? "Where's the blackjack tables?" Not in New York. But not for long in my view.


El Angelo said...

Doesn't table games require a constitutional amendment?

Anonymous said...

The gaming markets surrounding NYCity are nearly at full saturation points. Will a convenience slots parlor at Aqueduct pay dividends at this late juncture as proceeeds must be split amongst NY state, VLT operator, horse purses and breeding, NYRA and education?

Table games will help but it almost seems the juice is out of the lemon.