In Our Opinion: Scrutiny of Gambling Industry Needed

Coney Island. Citi Field. Yonkers.

These are just some of the neighborhoods that could possibly see casino’s built in their backyard, as the state is considering bids for three downstate casinos. While casinos could be a boom for certain industries such as construction, the high social costs of proliferating gambling could have serious effects on everyday New Yorkers.

Voters supported a ballot measure for up to seven commercial casinos across the state back in 2013. Four of these casinos have already opened upstate since and according to a 2020 State Comptroller report, the economic return of these casinos isn’t clear.

Flushing residents recently resisted the idea of having a casino, comparing Cohen’s pitch for a casino by Citi Field, saying it was exploitative and compared it to when the west pushed opium into Asia, according to a report from HellGate.

While gambling is an easy revenue stream that often goes to schools and other important vital services, having New Yorkers lose their money. Often it is the poorest and most vulnerable people who are susceptible to gambling issues.

A 2014 report from the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions found that poorer people are twice as likely as other income groups to have gambling problems.

While we don’t believe gambling should remain illegal and therefore exist in the black market, we have to to have a balanced system that prioritized the well-being of local at-risk residents including major regulations of casino/gambling advertising, how and what data can be used in online targeted advertising (if at all), as well as robust programs for gambling addiction.

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