Last month, state legislators held hearings to examine whether New York should seek to amend the state constitution to allow statewide gambling. Supporters tout expanded commercial gaming would solve New York’s economic woes.
Amending the state constitution requires approval by two terms of the Legislature, followed by a statewide referendum and public vote.
According to a recent Quinnipiac University poll of 1,016 registered voters, New York residents would approve the creation of casinos “similar to those in Atlantic City and Las Vegas,” reported CBS New York.
Poll results (with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points) showed 56 percent of registered voters backed statewide commercialized gambling, meaning casinos not affiliated with Indian tribes.
The majority of respondents—64 percent—thought creating new casinos would bolster the local economy.
“Undoubtedly, supporters of this effort will point to Indian nations, such as the Oneida Nation, as proof of the positive impact gaming can have on New York’s communities,” wrote Ray Halbritter, Oneida Nation representative and chief executive officer of Nation Enterprises including Turning Stone Resort Casino, in the op-ed The Real Story About American Indian Gaming in New York State. “The problem with that argument, however, is that Indian nations are fundamentally different from the gambling industry.”
Halbritter explained that New Yorkers should understand that Indian nations are not going to move out of the state or out of the country. They are obligated to reinvest their revenues on their ancestral lands and in surrounding communities.
Halbritter cited Central New York as an example. When the area’s manufacturing centers relocated to Mexico and China in search of higher profits, the Oneida Nation continued to invest back into the community. “…[I]n the process the Oneida Indian Nation emerged as one of the most positive economic forces in Central New York,” Halbritter wrote. “In 2010, the Oneida Indian Nation was the largest employer in Oneida and Madison counties and the third largest employer in the sixteen counties that make up Central New York, only behind Cornell University and the State University Health System.”