New Yorkers aren't yet ready to get behind the governor's plan to launch the state's first casino.And they may be right: Studies show casinos often boost crime and hurt local economies.
Though backed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, voters are not as supportive of the governor's plan to bring the megaplex to New York. A poll, conducted by Siena College, shows that 57 percent of voters are against the convention center that will be built at the site of the old Aqueduct racetrack in Queens.
However, 53 percent of voters are in support of the legislature passing a constitutional amendment to allow Las Vegas style casinos to be built in the state. While a majority of voters are in favor, 42 percent still oppose the legislation.
In his State of the State speech, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his plan to pair up with the Malaysian gambling giant, Genting Group, to build the state's first casino and the nation's largest convention center.
Ever since the first casinos were built in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, debates have arisen about the effects that they have, economically and socially. There is, of course, the moral hazard. Those with gambling problems living close to casinos face the chance of ruin every day.
Then there is the crime attracted to the activity. After an increase of major crimes last year, many are concerned that a casino will just make things worse. Studies show the introduction of casinos typically brings with it an average increase of eight percent in crimes.
Proponents argue that the casino will have a positive increase in revenue for the state, especially since the project is going to be privately funded. That may be the case: The currently limited racino at Aqueduct--which has been home to 4,500 video slot machines and 500 electronic table games since October--brought in nearly $13 million last week alone. The Genting Group estimates that once it reaches its full potential, that it will make $676 million per year, 44 percent of which will go to a state education fund, according to the Associated Press.
However, some experts question whether the casino will be able to generate that much revenue, especially in this economic climate. Nevada's largest casinos lost $4 million in 2011, according to a report released by the state's Gaming Control Board.
Beyond that, studies have shown casinos to be harmful to local businesses. In Atlantic City, 33 percent of independent restaurants closed between the opening of the city's first casinos in 1978 and 1997. A study by the University of South Dakota showed that retail and service businesses suffered a loss of about $60 million a year after the introduction of gambling to the state.