Poll: Should New York Legalize Gambling?

Governor Cuomo and the New York State legislature announced earlier this month that the state will consider a constitutional amendment to legalize casino gambling to put money in state coffers.

Legalization could raise as much as $2 billion, but legalization would happen no sooner than 2014. The amendment would need to be approved in 2012 and then again in 2013, and, finally, would need to be adopted by voters during a 2013 referendum.

Currently, casinos are restricted only to five Native American reservations, which oppose legalization.

The move, though, would not be without its pitfalls. Cuomo has urged caution, and told proponents to use the next two years to iron out a solid plan for implementation.

Locally, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz is requesting that any plan include funding to address gambling addiction. Cymbrowitz is chair of the Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, which has jurisdiction over compulsive gambling.

“With the current limited availability of gambling opportunities in New York State, nearly one million New Yorkers are problem gamblers. Additionally, a survey of 7th through 12th grade high school students found that ten percent, or 140,000 of these students, showed signs of problem gambling in the past 12 months. These are sobering statistics. If we are considering increasing the number of casinos, we must also consider the toll it will take on New Yorkers prone to gambling addiction and do everything possible to insure that they are protected,” Cymbrowitz said. “If the Legislature moves forward with the process of approving additional casinos it is paramount that we have a comprehensive plan in place to prevent an increase in compulsive gambling and also bolster existing problem gambling treatment programs.”

What do you think? Should gambling be legalized in New York State, or does it bring too many problems?