A casino in Coney Island? Here’s why one politician is suing to block the ballot measure

Posted at 8:54 PM, Oct 03, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-03 20:54:58-04

When it comes to casinos, the odds are always in the house’s favor.
But some say new language on a referendum that will be on the ballot this November in New York goes too far to sway voters.

New York City bettors have been pressing their luck at Resorts World Racino since it opened 2 years ago.
The Queens Casino is the highest grossing slot machine facility in the country, with bettors sometimes spending more than a billion dollars a month hoping to strike it rich.

Last year the governor tried to double down on that success, suggesting legalizing gambling and adding seven casinos across the state.

Some politicians suggested one of those casinos for Coney Island.
Isabel Costello and Cesar Rafael have lived in the neighborhood for decades and say they support the idea.

“Sure, I love casinos,” said Costello.  “I like to gamble.”

“I don’t have a problem with it as long as it increases the business and I don’t get pushed out by the big corporations,” said Rafael.

Next month Costello, Rafael, and all voters will get to weigh in, although Coney Island will have to wait at least five years before it can get a casino because of a temporary ban from the Governor.
But are the odds already in the house’s favor?

When voters head to the voting booth they’ll be asked to decide whether the state can add the casinos,
“[…]for the legislated purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated. Shall the amendment be approved?”

According to a recent Siena poll 55 percent of likely voters support the amendment when it’s worded that way.

But take away all the well-intended purposes of the casino, and the voting public is split.
Now local politicians are questioning the wording, and a Brooklyn lawyer even filed a lawsuit because of the wording.

Councilman David Greenfield told PIX 11 News:

“We owe it to New Yorkers to tell the truth about casinos. Any language in a referendum should reflect the good, the bad and the ugly of bringing casinos to New York State.”

“But even those who say they wouldn’t mind a casino coming here to Coney Island say you can tout the positive attributes all you want, but there’s no denying that casinos come with consequences.”

“All the beautiful buildings all over the place, but go outside those buildings where you see poverty,” said Costello.

“You could cause a big addiction like that,” Rafael added.

The Board of Elections declined to comment.  But you can start taking bets on what the ballot will say come November.