One of this page’s several reasons for opposing the casino gambling initiative embraced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo is the growing competition for gamblers’ dollars that New York already faces in nearby states — with casino gambling already legal in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Massachusetts, and Indian casinos operating within Connecticut as well as the Empire State.
Well, the competition just got a lot stiffer — with last month’s approval of Internet gambling in Nevada and New Jersey — and New York would be foolish to ignore this development.
New Jersey and Nevada aren’t even the first states to legalize online gambling; Delaware approved a similar measure last summer and is expected to be up and running this fall. Others will surely follow suit, either by themselves or through interstate compacts, making it harder still for New York to attract out-of-staters to the bricks-and-mortar casinos the governor envisions for places like Saratoga Springs.
Fancy new casinos cost hundreds of millions of dollars or more to build, and Cuomo might also want to keep in mind what happened to the newest one in Atlantic City, the $2.6 billion Revel. Investors were ready to bail on the project until Gov. Chris Christie agreed to pony up one-tenth of the money ($261 million) to get it built. Then less than a year after opening, it declared bankruptcy last month. A comparably expensive addition to the Mashantucket Pequot tribe’s Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut just before the Great Recession led to a bankruptcy there.
Casinos are not the sure-fire money-makers they used to be. The recession was one reason a lot of them are in trouble, but the fact that so many states now have them has got to limit their profitability going forward. And the competition is only going to get tougher — lots tougher — with the advent of Internet gambling.