Gov. Cuomo is staking a big pile of political chips — and a piece of the state’s economic future — on the expansion of casino gambling.
In his telling, opening a handful of full-fledged casinos — on top of the four Indian-run facilities and nine video lottery parlors that already exist — has the potential to transform the upstate economy.
He foresees destination resorts that would draw throngs of tourists, create tens of thousands of jobs and generate gushers of revenue for state and local government.
But sprinkling Bellagios across upstate New York is far from the clear economic winner Cuomo makes it out to be.
The closer you look, in fact, the more it looks like a losing bet.
Cuomo’s plan calls for amending the state Constitution to authorize as many as seven Las Vegas-style parlors. To start, he proposes to license three, located strategically across upstate. To get this done, the governor needs a signoff from the Legislature, then approval by voters in a referendum, likely this fall.
In support of his plan, Cuomo has pointed to New Jersey, where casinos directly employ 35,500 people and, according to a Rutgers University study, indirectly support another 100,000 jobs.
“Those are significant numbers,” he said. “They would be a significant impact, especially in upstate New...