In part four of New York's Big Bet, Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman takes at how casino gaming in New York State could impact neighboring states.
NEW YORK STATE -- Is New York losing out on the gambling gold rush? Supporters of an amendment to expand casino gambling certainly think so. And they're framing their campaign to push voters on the issue by saying the Empire State is losing at least one billion dollars to full-blown casinos in other states.
"Hopefully it draws people from all over. Right now, New Yorkers are spending at least one billion to two billion dollars in out of state locations. Hopefully we get that back and hopefully we get people from other states as well," said Heather Briccetti, Business Council President.
Several states that border New York allow some version of casino gambling, including Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. New Jersey, of course, has Atlantic City and Connecticut two popular Indian-run casinos.
"More people are concerned about being able to stay in their homes than they are about casinos being in New York State. They're already spending that money. Let's keep it in New York," said John Burns, a Binghamton real estate developer.
John Burns is a Binghamton area real estate developer who hopes the casino expansion will mean spin-off jobs and have the effect of trickling down to other sectors of the local economy. Along with the Catskills region and the Albany area, the Southern Tier is among the three areas of the state eligible for commercial casino construction should the amendment pass.
Burns said, "One point two billion dollars of New York spenders go to other surrounding states to spend that money. We need to capture those revenues of keeping those dollars in our state so we can reduce taxes, create jobs."
But everyone is convinced casino expansion will be the bonanza supporters claim.
"People think that there's $1.2 billion, $1.2 billion with a 'b' and we're going to get it back and it's going to go to tax relief for our schools. That's not the case at all," said EJ McMahon, Empire Center for NYS Policy President.
EJ McMahon of the Empire Center points to experiences of other states with casinos. He says gambling isn't necessarily an industry where revenues grow year-over-year, especially as more casinos in the New York area are built.
"One thing we're seeing, especially as casinos proliferate across the northeast, is once a casino opens, it produces a lot of revenue and then it doesn't grow. It's basically a fairly static amount of money," McMahon said.
New York already has five Indian-run casinos spread out over the state. And those are already bringing in visitors from other states.
McMahon said, "A portion of that, not all of it, a portion of that money now is gambled in other states and it will be gambled in New York. Well, not all of it. Not all of the money at, let's say Turning Stone, is gambled by New Yorkers."
And that means potential casino revenue for local governments will receive a temporary shot in the arm. But in the long term, the money will become another line item built into a budget that doesn't necessarily grow alongside built-in costs.
McMahon said, "The implication is that there's huge amount of money that is being gambled at casinos in other states and is going to be gambled in Tioga or the Catskills or Saratoga. That's too simplistic. You're not going to get all that back."
The casino amendment is one of six constitutional changes New Yorkers will consider on Tuesday. A reminder to voters that the amendments are being printed on the opposite side of paper ballots where candidate choices are displayed.