So, it really has come down to a public vote on whether to allow casinos (the Native American ones near Syracuse and Niagara Falls don’t count). We’ve not see it come this far yet, though clearly principals at locations like the Nevele, Concord and even the now extremely defunct Friar Tuck have been agonizingly salivating for decades for a piece of the action, only to have a Lucy snatch the football so the Charlie Browns fell on their extremely well heeled backs time after time.
To basically review, in order to change the state constitution, which forbids gambling (and has been ignored or circumvented by the aforesaid Native American casinos and the video lottery terminals, which are electronic slot machines, at the race tracks, and by the state lottery, and every office football pool and poker game) two separate state legislatures have to vote in favor of it, and it has to pass a statewide referendum, which is where we are now. It seems that each time the economy goes into the tank, as it did in the early 1990s and again in the mid two thousand aughts, the savior of New York’s fiscal health, and poor upstate, is thought, in some circles, to be casinos. So up it came in the early 1990s, and by about 1997 or so, it had passed the first threshold, one legislative passage. So close…oh so close…but Lucy, funded with, it was speculated, an Atlantic City Trump-fueled cash fury descended on the state capitol, created chaos, and poor Charlie Brown ended up on his back again.
Now, I’m not going to moralize here. You want to gamble? OK by me. Go ahead, spill all your cash (you know you’re not going to win, right?). Is it really any different dropping a couple of hundred in a night on the town gambling than it is spending the same on a Yankee game? Or the Metropolitan Opera? For those problem people, who can’t control it, well, there’s all those constitution circumventing opportunities listed above, as well as that little devil, the internet. Get your rocks off.
But there’s something about the shape of this movement to create casinos here in New York. The first big indicator that some kind of fix was in, is in the idea that, should the referendum fail, well, we’re going to put those innocent little video lottery terminals (electronic slots) in a lot of places anyway. So there.
Then there’s the absolutely hilarious language on the ballot. It says something like, vote for casinos and the most stunning woman you can imagine shall come down and lie with you…well, that’s a paraphrase for vote for casinos for the “purpose of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated. Shall the amendment be approved?” Well, gee, hey, I surely want those things…
Then there is the fact that the propositions on the ballot (this is proposal Number One) appear on the back of the ballot, not the front, where they’ve appeared before in the limited years of the new voting machines where you have to sit down with a pencil and fill them out, instead of pulling a lever. Any façade of objectivity to which the framers of the amendment might have aspired is whisked away like a puff of smoke, unable to disguise the hunger.
And you read stories of big, BIG money behind the potential sites. Settle down Saugerties, you’re beyond the end of the line, zillions behind. But down in Ellenville, there’s a deal to buy the Nevele, contingent, though, only on the referendum passing and the location being chosen.
And I guess I’m just starting to see the shape of the movement come into focus, and it’s not poor ole Charlie Brown looking to finally kick the damn football, but it’s got fangs its about to sink into my neck, and oh, it will feel soooo good, until I’m drained.
So I’m rooting (and voting) for Lucy to snatch the football one more time from Dracula and let the sunlight finally do him in.