Despite some of the controversies surrounding Gov. Andrew Cuomo's casino gambling referendum, voters in Fulton and Montgomery counties should vote yes on the proposal.
The referendum would amend the state constitution to allow up to seven casinos in upstate New York, including one in the Capital Region, which includes Fulton and Montgomery counties.
Although the odds may be in favor of a casino being built in Saratoga County rather than Fulton or Montgomery, the law still would give counties in each casino region a share of the tax revenue generated from the casino. The New York State Division of the Budget estimates Fulton County's annual share would be $1.6 million and Montgomery County could get about $1.4 million. The expenses of local government, driven primarily by the ever-rising salaries and benefit costs of public employees, are not going down, and the area needs all the help it can get.
We acknowledge gambling addiction is a serious social evil, but the simple truth is people who want to gamble will find a way to do it, whether at an Indian reservation or by other means. At least under the governor's proposal, some social good would come from the taxation of the profits from gambling. A?large amount would go to help pay for education throughout the state. NY Jobs Now, a coalition of labor, political and business leaders supporting the casino measure, estimates New Yorkers spend $1.2 billion each year at full-service casinos outside New York - from Atlantic City to Pennsylvania and Connecticut. We need to keep that money in this state, where it will do more good.
State officials should strongly consider tilting the table in Fulton or Montgomery county's direction when it comes to placing a casino. Saratoga County already has a viable economy. If the aim of the ballot measure truly is economic development, our two local counties likely would enjoy a noticeable economic gain from a casino.