New York voters will go to the polls Tuesday to decide whether the state should bet on casinos to help lift a sagging upstate economy.
If approved, the state would allow up to seven non-Indian casinos to be built, including in the Catskills, which long ago lost its favored status as a retreat for New York City residents.
The referendum has high-profile supporters, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who touts casinos as a way to kickstart business north of New York City.
But others from both sides of the political aisle have hammered the proposal. State Sen. Liz Krueger, a liberal from Manhattan, said at a press event this week that casinos hurt people who can least afford it and promotes crime as well. She was joined by Mike Long, chairman of the Conservative Party, who also opposes the measure.
Supporters are aggressively advertising and getting their pro-casino message out, arguing that New York is losing more than $1 billion to casinos in nearby states. Unions and the United Federation of Teachers have thrown their support behind Cuomo's casino plan.
The contested referendum's language has also been controversial. The measure specifically asks if the Legislature should be allowed to approve casinos "for the legislated purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated."
Editorial boards, including the New York Post's, argued the measure doesn't promote job growth and won't lead to increased aid to schools.
The New York Times editorial board has also turned against the referendum, stating "you should not accept the way this amendment is advertised on the ballot as a jobs and growth initiative for upstate New York. It is liable to fail to deliver on that promise."