September 29, 2013

Institute for American Values

CONTACT: Jody Wood
Cell: 646.660.2061
Office: 212.246.3942

Fleecing Citizens: Report Exposes Deception behind Government-Sponsored Casinos

NEW YORK, September 29, 2013 -- Amid what may be the most powerful, truth-be-damned lobbying push for a special interest in recent New York history, David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values, has produced a fiercely reasoned and richly documented report, New York's Promise: Why Sponsoring Casinos Is a Regressive Policy Unworthy of a Great State, which lays bare the evasions, deceptions, and secrecy behind the rise of government-sponsored casinos that are fleecing citizens by enticing them to lose money in rigged games.

From the report:

I looked for any research findings, studies, or independent analyses that served as the bases for the governor's public utterances to date regarding the benefits of casino gambling. I looked for scholarly and expert background papers, academic research briefs, commissioned reports, and independent cost projections and cost-benefit analyses. I wrote to the governor's office. I contacted Albany lobbyists. I searched the public record. [. . . ] As a result, I am able to identify the entire corpus of substantive analysis that, to date, has been cited or presented to the public by Governor Cuomo and the New York State legislature. (for the complete list of findings, see page 102)


New York City is arguably the most lucrative under-exploited gambling market on the planet. Governor Cuomo knows it. The global gambling companies who are desperate to do business in New York certainly know it. Everyone knows it. It's just that, for reasons connected to politics, no one is supposed to say it. At least not yet. (page 113)


The governor talks with comic-book hyperbole about ripple effects and super-charges and resorts and convention centers and boosting upstate tourism. But he knows -- everyone paying any attention to this issue knows -- that the gambling initiative is about New York's government getting the money. (page 107)


What of substance have our leaders cited or shared with us so far? The answer is: Absolutely nothing. Not a single study. Not a single piece of independent analysis. Not a single public hearing. Not even a serious speech. There is a word for this kind of behavior: thuggish. It's thuggish for our political leaders to insist that we change our Constitution without bothering to tell us why. It's thuggish to justify a major new public policy on the basis of nothing more than a few PR slogans and jingles. (page 103)


Political leaders do not want to give a speech, cut a ribbon, or pose for photographs at the opening of a casino. They understand that there is something unseemly about it, and even if they want the casinos to exist in order to get the money, politicians don't want to frequent, much less to become a symbol of or spokesman for, casinos and their values. (page 61)

Blankenhorn argues that Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan to bring seven new commercial casinos to New York is a violation of the state's constitution, the public trust, and the political tradition of New York's greatest leaders -- Fiorello La Guardia, Charles Evans Hughes, Theodore Roosevelt -- who fought bravely and successfully to keep powerful gambling interests out.

In stark contrast to Governor Mario Cuomo's "New York Idea," which held that casinos violate basic New York values, Andrew Cuomo's casino plan is a low idea unworthy of a great state (chapter 2). The report asks why New York, long considered a national leader, should resort to following the failed policies of states like Mississippi and become reliant on casino gambling as a source of revenue (chapter 7).

From the report:

We had a former governor who spoke honestly about these matters -- Mario Cuomo. Regarding the state's sponsorship of gambling, he said: "We do it for the money, but I don't know anybody who's excited." (page 107)


In his book, The New York Idea, Mario Cuomo states that over and above both his "personal feelings" and the significant civic and religious opposition to casinos, "there is a respectable body of economic though that holds that casino gambling is actually economically regressive to a state and a community." (page 20)


As Governor Mario Cuomo put it in an interview with the New York Times in 1994, bringing casinos into a state "doesn't generate wealth, it just redistributes it." (page 125)


This is New York. We don't fool easily. We prefer evidence over slogans. We're accustomed to leading rather than following. At our best, we favor justice over predation, thrift over waste, growth over stagnation, excellence over mediocrity, and the work ethic over the luck ethic. (page 127)

"Partly a civics lesson, partly a study in New York history, and partly a call to conscience," said William A. Johnson, former mayor of Rochester and a retired professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, "this report should be read be every New Yorker before making up his or her mind on the casino issue."

Read New York's Promise: Why Sponsoring Casinos Is a Regressive Policy Unworthy of a Great State.


For more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with David Blankenhorn, contact Jody Wood at (212) 246-3942 or

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