…that I think we can all agree on:
For the last year – including recently, thanks to special a couple of special elections – politicians and their TV and radio ads have been telling us how much trouble New York State is in. Apparently, well over a million people left last year, and from what I hear we’ve got a deficit that puts us pretty high on the list of states that, well, have big deficits. Our new governor, despite the “D” that follows his name, is proposing some pretty steep cuts in his forthcoming budget, which supposedly needs to be passed by April 1st, or (horror of horrors) the state might have to shut down. If it does somehow pass, I’m sure we’ll be left with a lot of pissed-off special interests who’ll gladly spend what’s left of their money baiting public sympathy on the airwaves.
And yet, somehow, our elected representatives have managed to make sure that budget contains over a million clams that are earmarked for the state’s desperately-needy “racino” facilities!
I know first-hand that doing business in New York state is hard. Nobody’s out there wheelbarrowing money to “Impact Aid” programs for companies that innovate and invent. Meanwhile, consider the racino business model: basically customers show up, pay to play some games, and in nearly every case leave with less money than they walked in with. Winning – and therefore cost – is stochastic and controllable. So that basically boils down to owning a business where your customers come in, hand you some money, and leave. And yet somehow, these places need taxpayer subsidies?!
At the lowest level, I’m not sure why racinos shouldn’t have to play by the rules the rest of us on the big New York state business playground have to follow. If you can’t keep the lights on with customers giving you money in exchange for a few minutes with a video poker game, you should close. Which brings me to the larger point, which is purely a matter of my opinion… The honorable senator Nozollio says that subsidies for racinos are important because the racinos create jobs. But for every job they create, how many people’s livelihoods do they impact negatively by providing a convenient place to gamble? And for every dollar that flows into the racinos in the form of the “Impact Aid” program, how many more go into those games out of people’s taxpayer-funded subsidy checks?
It’s one thing for a “racino” to stand on its own two feet, operating as a sustainable business, providing jobs and what all-too-often passes for “entertainment”. But when the state starts writing big checks to that racino out of my tax dollars, someone’s priorities are badly misplaced.