Before I begin the Casino section, we have to go over a couple of things. If you know me well, you’re not surprised by that.
First, if you hate casino gaming or someone in your family has suffered from the disease of gambling addiction, I get it. No matter what I say is going to change anything. Trust me, I am not trying to.
Secondly, I believe that we should always be striving to create an environment where the free market creates the most cash. Rates should be low and revenues should be up. I understand that some of you would support a hole in the ground if they promised to spend $25 million digging it. I get that too.
I am not against “anyone” or trying to show anyone up or trying to deny anyone of anything. All I am trying to do is maximize revenue. Please take these 5 “Casino Adjustments” in that spirit.
- Single Sourcing:
Nothing I am about to tell you should be taken as against the Oneida Indian Nation. One fact stands clear. A single source provider environment is never good for the people or tax revenue. The issue of “trust lands” has already caused silly ideas to surface and creates issues we do not need. Since the trust land issues cause us to seek Federal approval, wouldn’t be just as easy to invite Harrah’s or some other gaming company via state approval?? That would at least create a situation where “bidding” could occur.
This is 2017. It is time for New York to grow up. I worked with Newport Grand on cross promotions for years. If we want gaming, it should happen as a result of a competitive bidding process. The state might turn us down, but we need to at least ask. Not only do we create competitive bidding, but property in Utica stays on the tax rolls instead of being forfeited.
- The Location needs to be shifted
As proposed, it’s in the gateway zone to Harbor Point. It will scare some Harbor Point tourists away. It’s also supposed to be a family entertainment zone free from certain activities – why the proposed gun range also fails. Yes, it will attract people but few cities ever locate gaming on top of tourism interests. The traffic in that one spot will be impossible. The location needs to be shifted a tad westward.
- Comptroller Bill Morehouse is right
He said on the radio recently that there should be some form of payment yearly to the Utica Police and Fire Departments in the neighborhood of $2 million. I asked him about it and credited his team with coming up with the number. I believe, see hospital point #3, that we can adjust the sales tax to make this come true with almost nobody noticing. Remember, if the Oneida Indian Nation does not own the property, all the tax revenue is ours.
- Restaurant taxes have to be lowered
The Casino’s restaurants costs are 60% of a regular restaurant’s. Normal restaurants will not be able to compete. The crowd that visits a Casino restaurant might not be really looking for more – see the problem with Varick Street the night before the Boilermaker. (The problems involved in matching Syracuse’s revenue on Boilermaker Day, why we don’t max out potential Boilermaker revenue, and why Saranac Thursdays kill the Hotel Utica could comprise their own novella if given an opportunity. The good news is we can fix all that and not change much.)
Oh, they promised they wouldn’t add restaurants or buffets. Of course they did. You still put cookies for Santa Claus, don’t you?? Again, let’s be adults and handle potential problems right from the beginning.
- We will need more addiction funding
I am fully aware there are scratch tickets everywhere and an OTB in town. I also know of the existence of a bookie or two. I play poker online and might just have a fantasy team competing for the playoffs.
However, due to the allure of the casino, some people will try it and get hooked. They will need help. Their families will need help. Like every other addiction, the help must be available quickly. Let’s be honest about what we are about to do and have the money at the ready.
If we take these 5 steps, we will maximize our opportunities without changing the original plan all that much. Isn’t that better than blindly diving in the deep end with no Plan B?? I promise that if elected as the Legislator from the 22nd District that I will always rely on my tourism experience to improve proposed projects keeping the potential of unintended byproducts in mind.