Northern New York Newspapers
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NNY Living
Sat., Aug. 29
Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
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A bad bet


Quick Draw could be coming soon to a convenience store near you. Or maybe your bingo hall?

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposed budget would lift the last remaining restrictions on where the game could be played to boost state revenues.

The game is already played at nearly 8,000 locations, according to a New York Daily News report, but the governor’s plan would open it to hundreds more as a way to raise another $12 million this year and $24 million next year.

The game is often called “video crack” because of its addictive nature. Players pick up to 10 numbers from a card of 80 then wait to watch the winning numbers pop up on a video screen.

They don’t have to wait long for a payoff or the disappointment of losing with one game played every four minutes. It helps attract customers to bars and restaurants and now even the corner store. Retailers get a percentage of sales.

Currently, the video gambling game is restricted to places that have at least 2,400 square feet of space and serve alcohol, which holds them mainly to restaurants, bars and bowling alleys.

Those limits would be removed in the governor’s plan, which would come in addition to legalizing casinos.

Age restrictions would also be modified to allow 18-year-olds to play Quick Draw in bars or restaurants where liquor is sold. Currently, that privilege is limited to those over 21.

Expanding the game could hurt places where it is already established as well as draw revenue away from other Lottery games. It could simply take revenue from one pool of money to another.

It might also exacerbate social problems with gambling.

“Anytime you have expansion and more availability, you are going to have more difficulty,” said James Maney, executive director of the state Council on Problem Gambling.

Gov. Cuomo is also pushing development of three new upstate casinos to raise revenue. That will depend on the Legislature approving a referendum to be sent to the voters this fall. He doesn’t expect casino revenue to start flowing in until 2016, if the referendum passes.

However, to win acceptance, he said in his State of the State address that 90 percent of the casino revenue would go toward education, much like voters heard in the 1960s when asked to approve the Lottery.

New York already has five tribal casinos and nine racinos that offer video slots along with dozens of Lottery games to wager a dollar, $5 or $30 on.

The north country is well aware of the financial ruin and broken families that can come from compulsive gambling, specifically Quick Draw.

Gambling is a regressive way of raising revenue that can have tragic consequences. New York should refrain from finding more ways of encouraging it.

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