“Political leaders do not want to give a speech, cut a ribbon, or pose for photographs at the opening of a casino,” David Blankenhorn points out in a new and damning study New York’s Promise: Why Sponsoring Casinos Is a Regressive Policy Unworthy of a Great State . “They understand that there is something unseemly about it, and even if they want the casinos to exist in order to get the money, politicians don’t want to frequent, much less to become a symbol of or spokesman for, casinos and their values.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo “talks with comic-book hyperbole about ripple effects and super-charges and resorts and convention centers and boosting upstate tourism. But he knows — everyone paying any attention to this issue knows — that the gambling initiative is about New York’s government getting the money.” There isn’t, David argues, any evidence for the governor’s claims about the benefits of gambling, and the governor himself presents none, and a great deal of evidence against it.

Among the damning evidence David presents is the view of the current governor’s father:

We had a former governor who spoke honestly about these matters — Mario Cuomo. Regarding the state’s sponsorship of gambling, he said: “We do it for the money, but I don’t know anybody who’s excited.”

In his book, The New York Idea , Mario Cuomo states that over and above both his “personal feelings” and the significant civic and religious opposition to casinos, “there is a respectable body of economic though that holds that casino gambling is actually economically regressive to a state and a community.”

As Governor Mario Cuomo put it in an interview with the New York Times in 1994, bringing casinos into a state “doesn’t generate wealth, it just redistributes it.”


David is the president of the  Institute for American Values . The Institute just published  Why Casinos Matter , which offers “Thirty-One Evidence-Based Propositions from the Health and Social Sciences” explaining why state-sponsored gambling is a bad thing. (It’s the subject, as it happens, of an item by the editor in the November “Public Square,” as well as a few “While We’re At It” items. That issue’s now at the printer.)

Articles by David Mills

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