Sadly, the decision about voting yes or no to whether New York should allow more casinos requires the voter to weigh more than just the pros and cons of the question itself: e.g., more tax revenue and jobs vs. the woes of gambling addiction and gambling-related crime.
One also has to consider who's asking, why and how.
In the case of this proposed constitutional amendment - the first of six on ballots statewide Nov. 5 - the "who" is the governor and state lawmakers. The "why"? Yes, they want the jobs and the tax revenue, but also one can't ignore the fact that they're being bribed by the gambling industry.
Gambling interests gave $361,500 to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's re-election campaign and more than $1 million to those of senators and Assembly members between 2011 and this July. No one should wonder why this is. Business and other special-interest groups wouldn't keep spending their money on politicians if it didn't work. Over and over again, they get what they pay for. Casino owners are spending heavily to get the chance to make a lot more money at seven new casinos in New York.
The Legislature approved this amendment already, which means now it's in the voters' hands. Voters, however, are harder to convince.
This brings us to the "how" mentioned above.
An early draft of the ballot question was dry, but neutral:
"The purpose of the proposed amendment to section 9 of article 1 of the constitution is to allow the Legislature to authorize and regulate up to seven casinos. If approved, the amendment would permit commercial casino gambling in New York state."
Then Gov. Cuomo and the Legislature changed it, adding rosy promises about how voting yes would bring jobs, school aid and lower property taxes. Here's what you'll see on the ballot:
"The proposed amendment to section 9 of article 1 of the Constitution would allow the Legislature to authorize up to seven casinos in New York State for the legislated purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated. Shall the amendment be approved?"
This is clearly loaded language, and we expect most New York voters are savvy enough to see through it and realize they're being beguiled. Just in case, though, this editorial is here to reinforce that voice of caution in the back of your head.
If none of this nonsense existed, the casino question would be a tough call. But this particular constitutional amendment is being presented to New Yorkers dishonestly by politicians who are being bought by the casino industry. We don't trust it, and state leaders deserve a major reprimand from the electorate to prevent them from trying this kind of thing again. Therefore we urge you to vote no on Proposal 1 on your ballot Nov. 5.