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New York's plans to expand gambling  must be approved by voters in November. Photo: ragingwire, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
New York's plans to expand gambling must be approved by voters in November. Photo: ragingwire, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Pro casino coalition airs first ads

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The first ad is out promoting the ballot amendment to build new casinos in New York. It focuses on the benefits the casinos might bring, and not on actual gambling activity.

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Reported by

Karen DeWitt
NYS Capitol Correspondent
The ads from a statewide coalition of business and labor groups are aimed so far at downstate voters. The New York City mayor’s race and county executive contest in Nassau County, Long Island is expected to draw the greatest turn out on November 5th.
A narrator points out that the Democratic and Republican Mayoral Candidates, Bill de Blasio and Joe Lhota, both back the amendment. A similar ad to air on Long Island features Nassau County Executive candidates Tom Suozzi and Ed Mangano, who also are both pro-gambling expansion .
“They’ll be checking the same box,” the female narrator says.  
The ad goes on to portray workers constructing a building, chefs cooking at a restaurant, and teachers and students interacting in a classroom, with the narrator linking the new casinos to job creation and more money for schools.
There are no pictures in the ad of actual casinos or of people gambling.
Stephen Shafer, with the Coalition Against Gambling, says the ads are disingenuous.
“It’s an effort to just hide from people that this is about gambling,” said Shafer. “What the ads do not show are the horrible social costs that New York State residents will incur if this amendment is passed.”
Shafer, a retired physician, believes problem gambling will increase if the amendment is passed. But he says his side has no money for ads.
The business and labor coalition says it has $2 million to spend on promotions. The state’s Business Council President Heather Briccetti says more is planned, including direct mail.
A spokesman for the coalition won’t say whether TV ads are planned for upstate, saying they prefer not to outline their exact promotional strategy in advance.
Governor Cuomo, who successfully convinced the legislature to approve the gambling amendment, is not appearing in the ads, and has so far not made a special public effort to promote the ballot measure. But when asked, he readily gives his reasons to back it. He says New York already has gambling, with the slot like machines connected to the state’s lottery system at race tracks. And he says gambling is also easily available at Indian run casinos in New York and in neighboring states.
“It’s not really should we go there or not. We’re there,” said Cuomo. “The question is should we regulate them better and maximize the resources.”
The proposal is the number one amendment on the ballot. 

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