Will a referendum of ALL the citizens of Ellenville and Wawarsing ever be held to determine their position on a casino in the town? What studies did either the village or town board do before endorsing this? What research or due diligence on the involved parties, or casino gambling's affect on communities in general, did they do? Bet it was ZERO!
Deja vu all over again. In spite of warnings and public articles questioning the motives and court history of "Chief" Roberts and the "Mohegans," the naive and desperate local governments, wading into territory where they had no expertise or authority, "endorsed" the hypothetical and questionable plans to let the camel's nose of gambling under the tent that was the Tamarack Hotel. And what great benefits have the village and town garnered from all that? Nada, zip, zilch. And this after the sloppy non-starter that was the Modoc tribe casino proposal of years earlier.
And here we go with a new "questionable" player (County Exec Hein was FOR this, until the news of the suspicious background activity came out, so then he was against it; then a judged ruled allowing the deal, and he was for it again!), who say they'll walk away IF the state doesn't grant them casino permission, because THIS is "the only option" (even as the Fallsview Hotel successfully morphed into Honor's Haven Resort and Spa WITHOUT gambling).
Desperation makes for bad policy decisions, as does denial and wishful thinking. Things are surely bad, but how does making it worse make it better?
And Senator Bonacic is engaging in unsupported wishful thinking about "spurs" to the local economy, as studies and experience show that casinos COST communities more than they "spur" them:
"Studies overwhelmingly demonstrate that gambling's costs outweigh any economic benefit; that problem gambling rises as gambling opportunities proliferate; that economic hardship and crime likewise increase with more gambling; and that the level of wagering in this state and nation is increasing at a rate that is incompatible with true economic growth. It is the false promise of economic salvation. Any economic benefit realized from gambling is far outweighed by its economic and social costs." - Senator Frank Padavan, in All Gambling, All the Time
The case against casino gambling so far: it breeds crime and corruption; distorts local politics and encourages end-runs around proper procedure; drains resources and revenues from local governments and businesses; and fails to deliver promised jobs and economic development to the community. Though social costs to a town, region, or state can be measured in the dollars and collective pain borne by the community-at-large when casinos arrive, the costs to certain individuals and their families can become overwhelming, even all-encompassing.
For a series of columns on the negative impacts of casinos and gambling, including the sorry history of attempts in Ulster County, go to www.journal.kryolux.us and read the series "Beware the Sucker Bet" from PublicDomain42 through PublicDomain47.