Gaming Agreement: The Leaders expressed support to work with the Governor and request support from their respective majorities to put a constitutional amendment up for a vote.And so, in a mere paragraph contained within the announcement that the Three Men in a Room had agreed on the change in the tax brackets discussed in the prior post (and explained in more detail here), the road to expanded casino gambling in New York State officially begins. They also agreed on $50 million in grants to businesses affected by the summer flooding; and to provide relief to small companies and independent contractors from the MTA tax.
And the casino thing. Of course, as Tom Precious points out, the statement is light on detail, if not downright trite.
But the agreement is tentative, at best, since no one has yet agreed on where such casinos could operate, how many could open, who would operate them, or how much of their proceeds would go to the state. [Bloodhorse]The announcement prompted statements from two entities with a direct interest in the development....even though each group also issued similar statements just on Monday, in reaction to Governor Cuomo's weekend comments which portended the agreement. Seneca Nation President Robert Odawi Porter spoke on Monday about the tribe's three existing casinos, which have "created thousands of jobs that have a significant economic multiplier effect.” (Of course, he didn't mention that the tribe has been withholding payments for over a year to protest the racinos in their "exclusivity zone.") He did threaten to protect what he sees as the tribe's rights.
“New Yorkers have every right to discuss expanded gaming outside our exclusivity zone. As a business partner with the state, we disagree over racino in our zone. But the issue of the state breaching Seneca exclusivity will be arbitrated and resolved. [Capitol Confidential]And we heard from the New York Gaming Association (NYGA), which represents the existing racinos, with similar statements on both days. Got an email in my inbox on Tuesday afternoon from a Christina Levin (presumably no relation to Christine Lavin, who has been active with the Occupy movement), with a statement attributed to NYGA President James D. Featherstonhaugh.
“The New York Gaming Association and its members are pleased that Governor Cuomo and the Legislative leaders have announced an agreement to support enhanced gaming in New York State, which will create tens of thousands of much-needed jobs, generate hundreds of millions in additional state revenues and stimulate massive private economic investment in our state. We look forward to working with the Governor and Legislature to ensure that legalization of gaming is done in a limited and socially responsible manner.”Huh, what's that? "...done in a limited and socially responsible manner." Limited? Personally, I don't see much "limited" about expanding nine slots parlors into full-fledged casinos. Perhaps Ms. Not-Christina-Lavin is specifically referring to the notion that NYGA is trying to propagate that a decision to deny them exclusive rights to new casinos would necessarily open the floodgates and "lift all restrictions on casino gaming and allow casinos anywhere in the state," as it was put to the public in their sanctioned push-poll on the topic. In either case, perhaps she'd like to rephrase that.
And please, don't give me this "socially responsible" crap. These guys are already operating substantial gambling halls for no less than 20 hours a day, seven days a week. Don't want to sound like one of those religious nuts, and I don't think one has to be in order to believe that there's no social responsibility, just profitability, involved in opening your doors to slots parlors at 8 AM every day. Y'know, sugar-coated statements like this one just drives me nuts; it's the kind of hypocrisy that can only be generated with the notion that those who will read it are a bunch of fucking idiots. We all know that "enhanced gaming" is a pleasant (and cynical) way of saying "expanded gambling." We're well aware that this is all far less about creating jobs and generating revenues than it is about politicians getting a free pass from making painful budget decisions that could threaten their political careers and all the perks that come with it (both legal and otherwise); and about a handful of corporations and their executives making tons of money. And nobody really seems to ever acknowledge the people of more common means who may get hurt in the process. Sound familiar? Maybe we should get Christina Lavin to perform for Occupy Aqueduct.
- One conservative who was not willing to go along with the governor's plan to make the tax code fairer was Conservative Party chairman Mike Long. He apparently couldn't stomach any increase in the tax rates for the wealthiest taxpayers, even if it's less than the expiring "millionaires" surcharge and accompanied by cuts for incomes up to $300,000. "Dean holds the key," he said of his hopes that the plan would not be adopted, and referring to Senate Majority Leader Skelos. [Capital Confidential]
Of course, "the key" ended up quickly going along with the governor, extracting only an easing in the MTA tax for some in return. Because Dean isn't really that interested in anything but retaining control for his Republican majority next November. He'll do anything for that as we've seen, even if it brings the government to a halt, involves alliances with unsavory characters, or makes him a liar. So, Skelos wouldn't dare cross Cuomo on a priority issue such as this (see same sex marriage), lest this extraordinarily popular Democratic governor pull out all the campaign stops to help oust the Republicans next fall. He could do it in a second, and Skelos knows that surely will should his caucus no longer suit the governor's needs.