Casinos no longer sure winners for state, New York Times reports

16 August 2014

‘The long-standing image of gambling as a no-doubt winner for state governments has quietly gone the way of a bettor’s bankroll after too many hours at the tables’, according to an August 10 article in the New York Times.

The report suggests that New York State’s decision to “charge headlong” into the casino business may not produce the revenue and job creation benefits that supporters, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, have promised as a “powerful economic jump-start” for economically stagnant regions of the state. Four regional full-service gambling resorts are expected to win approval this year and open next year.

Analysts and experts interviewed by the Times suggested that the gambling market already may have reached the saturation point in the Northeast. They cite casino closings in Atlantic City and cost-cutting measures at Foxwoods as just a few indications of shrinkage in the regional gaming market. In addition, the article notes that at least four of the state’s nice racetrack casinos (racinos) could be “undercut and endangered” by the new casinos.

The article highlights another challenge for state officials: “choosing between areas in the greatest need of economic assistance and those where a casino could deliver the greatest impact for the state.” The state comptroller’s office has warned that most of the players in regional casinos will come from nearby communities rather than outside the state, producing no net gain in economic benefit.

Tribal casinos in New York were threatened with expansion in their own backyards unless they agreed to share revenues with the state. They agreed to the state’s terms, and now the Mohawk, Seneca and Oneida tribes are paying hundreds of millions into New York State coffers. The tribes are no longer actively opposing the state’s effort to open new gambling venues.