New York State is trying to crawl out of an economic hole that has been caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but, every time it inches upward, it slips back down as new coronavirus issues arise. A former governor of the state, David Paterson, thinks he has the solution and bills it as one that would give New York an immediate injection of $1.5 billion. Current governor Andrew Cuomo just needs to expedite the state’s casino plans and allow three new casino licenses to be issued for downstate operations.
Paterson, who served two years as New York’s governor, penned an op-ed piece that was published this past Sunday in the Times Union. In it, he asserted that lawmakers need to pull the trigger on a plan already approved by state residents to allow three new casinos, explaining that, in doing so, New York will get $1.5 billion in instant revenue, $900 million in recurring revenue, 120,000 new direct and indirect jobs and 70,000 “local union construction jobs and career training opportunities.” He added that the new venues would produce over $11 billion in employee wages, as well as $7.5 billion in new investment capital, as well.
The former governor explained, “As I learned, in a time of budget distress, there are two options: Cut spending or raise revenue. Right now, spending cuts are not an option, as New Yorkers battle to recover from COVID-19… Neighborhoods have been decimated and need to be rebuilt… We can be smart and find new revenue streams — like awarding the three remaining downstate casino licenses, resulting in an immediate influx of $1.5 billion and new union jobs.”
Paterson ruled the state from March 2008 to December 2010, having been handed the keys to the city after his predecessor, Eliot Spitzer, was ousted and forced to resign over a prostitution scandal. Paterson found a way to use his political influence after leaving office and has been a regular figure in the casino scene. Most notably, he has ties to Las Vegas Sands, which has had its eye on New York for years, and serves as a senior adviser to the casino operator’s president and chief operating officer, Robert Goldstein.
When New York voters agreed to allow casino expansion in the state in 2013, there were going to be four upstate casinos, which are now in service, and three downstate casinos. However, lawmakers decided to block the latter group until 2023 in order to give the upstate venues a chance to grow. It isn’t totally clear yet how much New York State’s revenue will be impacted by COVID-19, but the losses are expected to be in the tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars.