KINGSTON – Proposal Number One on this year’s ballot pertains to a constitutional amendment that would allow casino gambling in New York State.
State Senator John Bonacic, (R, Mount Hope) as chairman of the Standing Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering is more intimate with the issues than most other officials. Bonacic outlined the proposed amendment and detailed the ramifications at the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Kingston Thursday morning.
“I, for one, am not a fan of gaming, in and of itself,” Bonacic said. “But I am a fan of creating jobs; I am a fan of bringing more money for education; I am a fan of property tax relief, and I am a fan of bringing more money to municipalities. The recession is continuing to hurt upstate communities. Wall Street may be doing better, but Main Street is suffering.”
A state gaming commission comprised of seven individuals will decide where the casinos will be located, if the amendment is approved in two weeks. Three casinos regions are planned, one facility in each part of the state.
A fourth casino is wild card, and can go anywhere. Bonacic said he believes the Catskill/Hudson Valley will get the extra casino, because of the region’s proximity to the New York City market.
Tax revenue from casino gambling is earmarked to the county where the casino is located, plus portions for adjacent counties. Ulster County’s piece of the action is estimated to be over $4 million per year.
Even if the amendment fails, there will still be video lottery terminal facilities established throughout New York, Bonacic indicated.
“People that talk of addictions that come from gambling, I say that unemployment and underemployment does more to create and enhance poverty, than a small minority that may get hooked on, with gaming,” the senator said. “There’s negatives and there’s positives, but in this case, I see much more positives, as to why it should be supported as a matter of public policy, to provide services for almost all New Yorkers.”