2011-02-16 / Front Page

Addabbo, Miller Push Aqueduct Racino Over Indian-Run Casino

BY JOHN TOSCANO

Two Queens lawmakers continued their efforts the week of February 7, to promote racino gambling at Aqueduct Racetrack while highlighting what they perceive as the rotten deal the state will get from Indian-operated casinos.
State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr., whose Ozone Park/Howard Beach district includes Aqueduct, where the Resorts World New York racino is under construction, carried the battle to a state senate committee hearing in Albany.
There he outlined changes and improvements that would strengthen the horse racing industry and bring more patrons to Aqueduct.
At the same time, Assemblymember Mike Miller (D–Woodhaven), whose district adjoins and overlaps Addabbo’s, vowed to work to block the approval of an Indian tribe’s effort to open a casino in the Adirondack area of New York state.
Miller argued that overall Indian-operated casinos do not bring as much revenue as racinos to New York state, nor create as many local jobs as racinos do.
In his testimony before the senate panel, Addabbo opened up the possibility of having night racing at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park once the racino, currently under construction, opens for business.
In another innovation to increase the revenue to the state from the Resorts World racino, which will have more than 400 slot machines, Addabbo raised the possibility of adding table games there to attract more patrons and increase the state’s revenue.
Adding the table games was discussed at a recent hearing held by the senate’s Committee on Racing, Gaming & Wagering in Albany. To make the change to allow table games would require an amendment to the state constitution, Addabbo said.
Noting the importance of racing to his district, Addabbo stated at the hearing:
“In recent years, New York state lost billions of dollars to other nearby states that could have gone to New York—some 62 cents of every dollar and 42 cents of every dollar to education.”
Addabbo added that while the horse racing industry loses money, the state loses tourism dollars and tens of thousands of new job opportunities, the legislature would consider the expansion of table games.
As for Aqueduct, Addabbo said he is prepared to discuss the addition of night racing there, once Resorts World is fully operational.
Addabbo also expressed his appreciation to the committee, now under the control of a Republican chairman, for being able to have a role in preserving Aqueduct as a racetrack.
The lawmaker said there was also a robust discussion concerning the future of the New York City OTB, which was closed down by the city recently, and the proposal to unify the entire OTB operation statewide. Addabbo said that the groundwork for upcoming legislation to address the OTB issue was also discussed at the hearing. Addabbo said that issue affects thousands of current and former OTB employees.
Addabbo said the committee also received feedback about unfair competition from casinos operated by Native Americans which enjoy a tax advantage over other casino operations and racetrack racino/VLTs.
As an example, Addabbo cited the proposed casino in Sullivan County in Upstate New York, which will be operated by the Stockbridge Munsee Indian tribe from Wisconsin. This casino, which would be a few miles from the Empire Resorts racino in Monticello, would pay an effective tax rate of 12 to 18 percent while the Monticello Raceway racino pays an effective tax rate of 59 percent.
Besides this disparity, Indian tribes pay zero percent on table games, Addabbo pointed out.
Assemblymember Mike Miller, whose district is adjacent to Ozone Park, issued a statement which had other information regarding the tax benefits enjoyed by Indian-run casinos and the adverse effect this has on New York state’s revenue intake from casinos.
“Not all casinos are created equal,” Miller stated. Miller, who is a member of the Assembly’s Racing, Gaming & Wagering Committee, said “It has come to my attention that if the Stockbridge-Munsee Native American tribe’s casino is approved and opens in Sullivan County, it will cost New York state over $400 million in lost tax revenue.
“I will fight this tooth and nail for the good of New York City and New York state.”
For starters, Miller pointed out that the race track casino industry in New York state raises $1 billion for the state every year.
In contrast, Miller pointed out, due to federal entitlements, Native American tribes can open casinos that are exempt from many taxes. These casinos do not pay taxes on table games. They only contribute 25 percent on slot machines as opposed to the 60-70 percent collected from Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) that will be in the Resorts World New York racino at the Aqueduct Racetrack.
Miller continued, pointing out the Indian-operated casinos are given advantages that other wagering businesses, including the Aqueduct racino, do not receive.
He stated that 62 cents of every dollar received from our racinos goes back to the state, 42 cents goes to funding education, 10 cents goes to lottery administration, 9 cents goes to horse racing purses and 1 cent goes to (horse) breeding.
Miller summed up, that while race track casinos pay 62 cents on the dollar, the Native American casinos pay just 20 cents on the dollar.”
Miller said if the Stockbridge-Munsee casino is built, the state is projected to lose $407 million from its operation, amounting to a $188 million loss in state education funding, a $127 million loss in horse racing industry support and the loss of over 900 jobs.
“This casino would kick the New York state economy while it is already $10 billion down. The construction of the Stockbridge casino would cost jobs, funding to education, and the economic well-being of the state. This plan is bad for New York City, it is bad for New York state, and this [is] why my vote is ‘no’”.
 

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