Is the deck stacked for casino gambling?

Posted at: 10/28/2013 11:36 PM
By: Dan Levy

ALBANY - When you walk into the voting booth on November 5th, will you have all the information you need to make an informed decision? Some government watchdog groups think you might not. In fact, some of them believe, when it comes to a decision on gaming, the vote might not be on a level playing field.

Increased aid for every New York school district, property tax relief, and job creation: when you look at it that way, who would vote against Proposition One?

"Proposal One is to add three casinos in New York State," says Blair Horner, of NYPIRG, "This other stuff if just your normal political propaganda."

Horner says he's not taking sides on whether or not voters should approve additional casinos, but he'd like to see campaign flyers that are less deceptive.

"There's no pictures of families that have lost a lot of money because one of their family members is a gambling addict," Horner points out, referring to a 8 by 11 inch high glass flyer mailed out to voters. "There's nothing in her about the fact there may be additional crime. There's no down sides listed in the flyer."

Opponents to casino gambling argue that expanding casino gambling in New York State could potentially increase gambling addiction, exploit those suffering from gambling addictive, and have harmful effects on the communities in which the casinos are located.

"There's nothing wrong with sending a message so long as it's clear to the voters whose actually speaking to them," says Susan Lerner of Common Cause New York.

Lerner says she'd like to know whose paying for the Prop One campaign, pointing out she knows next to nothing about the NY Jobs Now committee.

"In many instances I would expect that knowing who actually paid for the ad would be information which would make the voter more likely to credit the ad," she says, "In other instances, it might make them more skeptical."

That's why Common Cause and other so called good government groups are advocating for stronger disclosure laws.

"We think it's important for voters, when they receive a communication, to know whose actually paying for it," Lerner says.

According to Horner, because job growth, school aid, and property taxes are mentioned in the casino proposal, he thinks the deception extends into the voting booth.

"The ballot wording is deceptive because the administration put its thumb on the scales to twist the language to make it seem like people should vote for casinos," Horner says.