$500 million for NYC casino shows what scheme is really about


Giving away the show on what New York’s rush to expand casino gambling is really all about, the state last week announced the minimum price to open a Big Apple gambling den will be $500 million. In other words, our leaders will sell out the public, but not for chickenfeed.

Indeed, the fee for one of the three licenses could go higher: Per the New York Gaming Facility Board, “An applicant may propose to pay a higher license fee.” 

Let the bidding start! It just wouldn’t be the Empire State without yet another chance for cash-flush fat cats to one-up each other as they pay mind-boggling baksheesh to our political overlords. The same geniuses, recall, who allowed $11 billion in COVID unemployment fraud.  

That mega-millions payout for a license would come atop big-time campaign contributions to Gov. Kathy Hochul and others. For one, SL Green chief Marc Holliday (a major hopeful for a Times Square casino) kicked in almost $70,000 to Hochul. And the pols will surely expect more largesse as the bidding proceeds.  

And for what? Casinos do nothing to advance the interests of everyday citizens.

On the much-vaunted economic front, the benefits promised by developers and megaphoned by electeds never materialize. Ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo was a big casino booster, but a quick glance at the $200 million shortfall that hit upstate casinos in 2018 shows just how senseless it is to pin revenue hopes on gambling. Fact is, new casinos basically cannibalize older ones: Witness the downfall of 14 casinos in Atlantic City. 

Gaming dens bring major social costs, too. Gamblers tend to be poorer, which means any revenues extracted from them are, in effect, a highly regressive tax. And casinos are crime magnets, too. Data suggests they’re responsible for as much as 8% of crime in counties housing them. A new one is literally the last thing New York needs as Mayor Eric Adams and the NYPD fight to effect a public-safety turnaround here. 

The battle for new casinos, and especially for one in the city, is a clear case of pols versus the public they allegedly serve. That the public will, almost certainly, lose is an ugly reminder of the sheer greed Albany will keep on feeding until voters deliver major political change. 


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