Sunday, February 22, 2015

Back at the Table in New York

No, not the poker table or even the blackjack table. But, the New York State Gaming Facility Location Board is back at the negotiation table and will begin hammering out the process for filling the fourth casino slot in the ensuing months.

According to an article by Joseph Spector (@GannettAlbany), Gannet's Albany Bureau Chief, in this Sunday's Gannet chain newspapers, the Board will meet in Manhattan this coming Friday, February 27, 2015 to release the documents behind their December 2014 decision to place three casinos around the state. At the meeting they will also detail plans for new bidding on a fourth casino to be located in the Southern Tier, more as a way of placating unhappy bidders and residents, than as a means to make right what some see as a wrong in only choosing to pick three casino locations.

What once looked like a promising proposal to build full scale casinos in New York has turned into a charade with the board and everyone else sticking to their guns regarding the legislature's original purpose for approving casinos in NY at all - economic development in otherwise depressed areas like the Southern Tier, the Catskills, and other sites away from New York City.

 Has this approach worked in Atlantic City? It seemed to have worked for a while although it really never improved the surrounding area or created enough well paying jobs for local residents. Recently AC has fizzled on all accounts and 4 casinos have closed in the past year as everyone is well aware.

Casinos along the Mississippi River have met with mixed reviews, many of them closing for lack of patrons. The story as far as economic development is concerned in the surrounding area is just as bleak.

Building a casino in order to bolster the local economy is a mistake and no self respecting gaming company would build one for that reason, although they will pay lip-service to that ideal while the contracts are being handed out. Casinos are around to make money for the owners and for whatever taxing agency gets a cut. Nothing more, nothing less. People flock to casinos, when they do, not to contribute to a local economy but to have a good time and maybe win some money. For that they are willing to travel a reasonable amount of time - anything over 90 minutes starts to get iffy.

At this point, New York's entire process in questionable in my humble opinion. Wherever they build them they will be enormously popular for a very limited, short time period immediately after they open. Over time people will lose interest.

The best case scenario for full scale casinos in New York has been overlooked, purposely, I'm sure. Take the racinos in Yonkers and Queens and let them develop other types of gaming, mostly table games and poker. They will flourish even more than they are now. People from the most densely populated area of New York will go often and stay long. Owners will make lots of money and lots of taxes will be generated for the state and local governments. All the rest is political nonsense that will end up costing billions for little result.

Remember Atlantic City! Remember Tunica!

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