Friday, October 23, 2015

And Then There Were Four (4)

The deliberations on New York's possible fourth new casino are done and the result is approval by the same gambling regulators who originally rejected a proposal from Tioga Downs to expand their racino operation into a full fledged casino. After being sent back to the table for neglecting to select a proposal from the Southern Tier of New York, the regulators put a smile on the face of Governor Andrew Cuomo and a bigger one on the face of his friend and campaign supporter, Tioga Downs owner Jeff Gural by saying yes at their October 14, 2015 meeting.

Any time a government entity is involved in a decision, politics will be involved too as I am sure was the case here. Political shenanigans or not, if the real purpose of approving casinos for different areas of New York was to boost the local economic picture then the Southern Tier / Binghamton area deserves to be noticed.

Binghamton, New York
 Tioga Downs itself it located in Nichols, New York which is a lot closer to northern Pennsylvania than it is to Binghamton. The likelihood that expansion of this raceway/racino into a full service casino will somehow raise this depressed area up is slim. The area has been depressed for quite sometime and that is mostly due to the changing identity of the area. Once a burgeoning manufacturing center, the gloves, shoes, firearms, and technology (read IBM) that once bolstered this community have moved elsewhere. A few construction jobs that are transitory at best and a few casino jobs that are mostly low-paying are not going to perform the magic that is needed here.

 If you look to our neighboring state of Connecticut, home to two of the largest Indian casinos in the world, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, the lessons to be learned are not bright for the surrounding communities. The per capita income graphs for CT go up slightly for most areas over the past 20 years but have since leveled out or even dropped. Having a huge casino in your neighborhood does little to change the character of a community for the best, especially economically.

 New York's grand experiment to bring real casinos to New York is hardly anything new. Before this casino expansion there were 20 casinos/racinos throughout the state (20) and now there will be four more. Only a dreamer would have high expectations that any significant changes for any community are in the offing. A bit more tax money will be raised. A few more people will get jobs, mostly low-paying ones. A few more entertainment seeking patrons will have an easier trip to have some fun. New York, nor any other state for that matter, will ever duplicate the Las Vegas experience. New Jersey tried and look what happened there.

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