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New York Intends to Expand Gaming in the State

On January 22nd, 2009, as the state of New York faces a fifteen billion dollars budget gap, Senator Jeff Klein, supported by Senator Joe Addabbo, Lottery Director Gordon Medenica, Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters, Kim Sweet from Advocates for Children and concerned parents, proposed the expansion of gambling options at the state's existing video lottery establishments with the addition of electronic casino table games. The gaming proposal would produce a projected one hundred fifty million dollars in additional profits for the state education (bill number S.706).

There are currently more than thirteen thousand video lottery machines at horse racing tracks across New York. Video Lottery gaming has seen a big increase in revenues of twelve percent, or $73 million dollars in the past year. In the fiscal year 2007-2008, video lottery gambling produced $875 million dollars, of which more than $480 million dollars was given for education in the state. Under Klein's gaming proposal, when two brand new video lottery gambling establishments open in 2010 in Aqueduct and Concord, projected gaming revenues could reached up to $275 million dollars more yearly for the state's schools.

Klein said that expanded video lottery gaming under statute to include electronic casino table games is important if New York is to stay on even ground with other states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey, which usually attract players across the borders. In 2007, twenty-three percent of the 26,400,000 visitors to Atlantic City were from New York, each spending on average $550 dollars, with a total estimated negative economic effect on New York of $3.3 billion dollars.

The state legislature is currently in the middle of studying Governor Paterson's proposed budget which states a $20.693 billion dollars in school aid-a drop of $698.34 million dollars or 3.26 percent less projected spending. New York City would get $280 million dollars or 3.76 percent school less aid.

Just last year, New York spent a total of $22 billion dollars in school aid. Klein said that in these difficult times, they need smart and working solutions that not only help maintain important services, but to keep the foundations of their schools strong. It is important that their children receive quality education which can be helped through improving lottery revenue.

Kim Sweet, the director of Advocates for Children said that New York cannot afford to balance its budget by cutting into education. They need to make revenue-producing proposals to enable to make an important investment for their children's futures. In 2001, the state legislature gave its approval to video lottery gaming. In 2004, the state Court of Appeals decided to upheld the law and video lottery gambling started at New York's horse racing tracks, which is usually referred to as "racinos". Video lottery gaming machines possess a lot of similarities to slot machines in appearance and players wager on the result of a video game.

The machines are made in a way that all players will be able to play at the same time, just as lottery players been able to purchase lottery tickets. Examples of the new games that will be included in the gaming expansion are baccarat, roulette and blackjack. The brand new electronic casino table games will function in the same way, which will satisfy the legal requirements for a lottery game.

Addabbo said the state legislature have the chance to study different ways to ease the burden of additional funding and cuts to their education sector. Klein stressed the importance of approving the legislation to expand gaming so as to encourage the gaming industry to invest on the needed technology for the new games. Legislative movement would send a clear message to the gaming industry that such an investment would produce a good return.


Wednesday, 25 February 2009
Darren G. Strachan