2001-11-10 / Editorial/Opinion

Neither The Time Nor The Place For Casinos

Neither The Time Nor The Place For Casinos

If you have ever visited Atlantic City, you will not need to be told that the gleaming edifices on the boardwalk do little or nothing for the community at large. Walk a block or two off the boardwalk and you might as well be in Beirut, with its crumbling buildings and shoddy stores and motels. While thousands flock to the Mecca of east coast gambling each day, those visitors do little to reinvigorate or revitalize the community. What jobs the casino hotels provide are either menial or highly sophisticated. The menial jobs, those that pay minimum wage, are filled by day workers from the community. The sophisticated jobs, those that pay a decent wage, are filled by trained workers brought in from other gambling venues, most notably from Las Vegas. There is little middle ground. In a late-night compromise to satisfy Mayor Giuliani, the State Senate recently voted to add one New York City casino to the numerous casinos being planned for Upstate New York. That casino is mandated for Rockaway, reportedly, for the Arverne Renewal Area. Opposition to the plan has already begun to grow, from religious groups, from anti-gambling advocacy groups and from local politicians. We want to add our voice to that opposition. We do so not on moral grounds, nor on the grounds that people should not be allowed to gamble even if they want to. We do not want the casino in Rockaway because it will add nothing to the community and might, in fact, subtract from the revitalization that has already started to take root throughout the peninsula. This period of economic instability in the wake of September 11 makes this the wrong time for casino development. Take a look at Atlantic City and you will know that Rockaway is also the wrong place.

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