Publically Supported Casinos—A Transfer of Wealth from One Class to Another

By Dave Duncan

Gambling is not going to be the salvation of Broome County. (Do not allow gambling to be referred as gaming, it is not a game it is gambling). The Governor, the County Executive, and numerous other political fakers all over the County, are hawking a proposed gambling casino development as a solution to our economic woes. The plan submitted to NYS for approval calls for a project called Traditions Resort & Casino to be built in the Town Of Union. The plan calls for the development of a nearly $200 million project that on paper is to create 1,066 jobs.

Broome County Industrial Development Agency

To keep the average taxpayer from reaching the economic pearly gates that could be provided by the casino, the IDA is contemplating an application from the Traditions developers that will eliminate the payment of $2.8 million in sales tax and $1.1 million in Broome County mortgage recording fees. That is only part of the break that the developers want. Developers also want to make payments in lieu of taxes, or PILOT. The PILOT that the IDA usually gives to wealthy developers is a 50% tax reduction for 15 years. For a project that the developers project will cost almost $200 million, this tax break will cost the people of the county approximately $18 million. In fifteen years the casino could go the way of some Atlantic City casinos. So much for financial salvation!

County and Town Services

The proposed casino owners will want the usual fire, police, schools, road repairs, social services for the lower paid employees as well as other public services. They just don’t want to pay their share of taxes.   The IDA is always happy to accommodate the wealthy.

Jobs to be Created

The application to the IDA states that there will be just over 1,000 jobs created. More than half are part-time. Nor is there any indication of pay or other benefits. The IDA will have no problem if many fewer jobs are created since the IDA has never counted the jobs created by the tax breaks given out. The IDA also does not consider pay and benefits when giving breaks to developers.

Flexible Spending Limits the Real Number of Jobs Created

There is also the factor of the flexible amount of dollars that people have to spend. If a family spends a $100 at the casino then that is $100 that they do not have to spend at a restaurant, a ball game or going to the movies. Some existing jobs in the community will surely disappear as a result of this lost revenue. This negative job figure doesn’t exist for the IDA.

Pay

There is a very great array of jobs associated with the gambling/resort industry. There will be servers at the restaurant, housekeepers, grounds keepers, shuttle bus drivers, surveillance and security personnel and dealers for the card games. However, most of the gamblers will use slot machines.

Casino card dealers are paid about $16,500 per year, plus tips. Housekeepers and ground keepers will get about $9 per hour and licensed security personnel make about $30,000 annually. This is not a high paying industry which could increase the number of people going to the Dept. of Social Services for help in order to exist.

Gambling Creates False Hopes

In 2000, the U.S. National and Gambling Impact Study Commission found that 80% of gambling revenue comes from households with less than $50,000 a year income. Within that figure, the lower the family income, the higher the amount spent on gambling. Gambling becomes a very serious disease that has destroyed many lives and families.

You’re Elected Officials Screwing the People

The Broome County Executive and a number of legislators sit on the IDA Board. These people do not mind giving sales and property tax breaks to the wealthy. These very same sales tax breaks, however, were not given to those families who had to rebuild after the two disastrous floods of the past ten years.

This article is not an endorsement for the competing proposal put forth by the Tioga Downs Casino developers, however, those developers have not yet filed for an IDA property tax break.

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