As I read Mr. Pierce’s “Guest Appearance” concerning Lago (Insight, Sunday, Jan. 3, “Lago will be shot in arm”), it was quite apparent that Mr. Pierce has no real understanding about casinos or gambling. I have been involved in horse racing for over 40 years, and my son is vice-president of Caesar’s Casinos in Las Vegas, so I have first-hand knowledge of both horse racing and the gaming industry.
Mr. Pierce made reference to the fact that Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack does not own the VLTs so therefore has no financial investment in the slot machines whereas Lago will. First Mr. Pierce, all — yes all — VLTs in non-Indian owned casinos in New York state are owned and regulated by the state Lottery system, not just FLGRT. Most major casinos acquire slot machines either by purchase or lease from the manufacturer. Lago will decide what is best for its purposes. Currently at FLGRT 92 cents out of every dollar played is returned to the player. Of the remaining 8 cents, 6 cents goes to the state and the purse account for horse races run at FLGRT. Two cents of every dollar goes to Delaware North, owners of FLGRT. In contrast, Lago will get to keep about 6 cents on every dollar, or three times what FLGRT earns. All Delaware North is asking for is a level playing field.
Mr. Pierce suggests the casino will bring an influx of tourism to the area. All one needs to do is look down Route 318 to Waterloo Premium Outlets. The mall created hundreds of jobs and is visited by thousands of people yearly, but how many of these customers get on and off the Thruway and never visit Waterloo, Seneca Falls orGeneva? How many visit wineries? Hardly anyone. They come to shop and go home. The casino will do much of the same, but on a larger scale.
Gamblers would rather risk their last $2 on the flip of a card, roll of a die, or spin of a wheel. They are not going to visit wineries, stores, etc. The casino will give them everything they need — lodging, dinner, drinks and amenities.
I have a pantry full of gifts (blenders, toasters, dishware, etc.) given to me for playing at the casino. Thanksgiving I received a turkey, Easter a ham; things I would have had to purchase locally but given to me free for playing. How do local retailers survive or compete when the products they sell are given as rewards for playing at the casino? They can’t. Just like the mall that eliminated small retail stores, the casino will do the same.
Furthermore, Mr. Pierce, it is statistically proven that with the casino, you will see a rise in bankruptcies, the divorce rate and in crime. They don’t call Las Vegas “Sin City” for nothing.
Yes, the casino will provide a quick boost to the local economy. But construction jobs are temporary and most casino employees will earn minimal wage. Long-term, the casino will siphon money out of the local economy and Seneca County taxpayers will be left holding the bag.