Supporters of casino-style gambling are making themselves heard in central New York two weeks before Election Day. A coalition of economic development, labor leaders and politicians, called the New York Jobs Now coalition, is encouraging voters to support Proposal Number One, which would allow non-Indian casino gambling in upstate New York. Boosters say the whole state would benefit from this initiative in a couple of ways.
For State Senator Dave Valesky of Oneida, approving gambling upstate is a no-brainer.
"New Yorkers are spending over a billion dollars in other states," Valesky said. "So it's Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Canada that are reaping the benefits of New York state dollars. So why would we not do everything we can to make sure those dollars are spent here in New York state."
Syracuse Assemblyman Sam Roberts agrees, saying right now New Yorkers, many of them from the New York metropolitan area, are spending gambling dollars in neighboring states.
"We are trying to get folks from New York City to come up out of New York City to spend their tax dollars - well, they will be tax dollars - but to spend some of their money up here with us," Roberts said.
What kind of dollars are we talking about? The state estimates $430 million in new tax revenue every year, more than $40 million of that to the central New York and Mohawk Valley area. Eighty percent of that would go to school districts and for property tax relief.
New York Jobs Now also says the new casinos will bring 10,000 jobs to the state. Central and Northern New York Building Trades Vice President Ron Haney says his members often have to leave their homes to find work.
"Our members are sick of going out of state to get jobs," Haney said. "They'd love to stay in New York state and have jobs. It's expensive and you're away from your family when you're out of New York state."
Central New York Labor Federation President Ann Marie Taliercio says benefits will even come to areas that don't get the casinos.
"We benefit from any type of within the state movement," Taliercio said. "So that's how we'll benefit. And I'm sure, if they're an hour away, people will be traveling for these jobs."
The parts of the state that could land a casino are areas that don't have casinos currently run by Indian Nations. That means the Southern Tier, Catskills/Hudson Valley and Capitol/Saratoga regions. Recent polls show a majority of New Yorkers support the referendum.