Cuomo’s Corporate Casino

April 8, 2014

Our radical corporatist governor attacks the South End to
please a big campaign donor

Consider this the first big test of the political skills of the new mayor of Albany and the integrity of the new Common Council. A Rochester developer named Flaum, who contributed some $100,000 to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s election campaign through his outfit “Republicans For Cuomo,” breezed into town last month and proposed saddling Albany with a $300+ million casino. And yes, this guy wants to put this crap in the South End, not far from my house.

The casino is supposed to be 17,000 square feet, a temple of scam that exploits the widespread mental disorder known as gambling. Like many casinos this proposal includes, as an afterthought, a “waterslide park” an “equestrian centre” and a “retail mall” all of which they call a “resort.” If casinos like Turning Stone near Syracuse can be used as a template, then this “resort” will basically consist of hotel space and parking for gamblers surrounded by a lot of monoculture lawn that is regularly dosed with toxic chemicals that will dribble into the Normanskill, and that’s pretty much it.

I am sorry to report that our new mayor Kathy Sheehan apparently directed Andrew’s campaign donor to the South End, and I’m hearing that the new Common Council is amenable to this boondoggle. If this attack on the South End had happened under her predecessor in the office of mayor then I would automatically assume that this guy Flaum was passing around envelopes bulging with cash. But instead it looks like mayor Sheehan is being strongarmed into playing along with this proposal by Andrew Cuomo, and it’s quite possible that she simply has no choice but to play along.

 Casino Promoter Governor Andrew Cuomo Casino Promoter Governor Andrew Cuomo

So, is building casinos in a gradually failing national and local economy, one where more and more people have less and less money, a good idea anywhere? The short answer is a resounding no. A recent article in Bloomberg Business Week makes this very, very clear:

Casino revenue fell in February for the sixth consecutive month in the four largest Midwest gambling states… Even in Las Vegas sales are down 12 percent so far this year. On March 25, International Game Technology (IGT), the world’s largest slot machine maker, said it would reduce its global workforce by 7 percent, or 350 people, citing a decrease in its North American gambling operations… The company, which collects a share of money bet on some of its leased machines, reported an 8 percent sales decline in that business in the quarter ended in December.