Instances Sq. is roaring again from the pandemic. “Ghost city” is a dim reminiscence. Theaters and eating places are packed. Corporations are leasing extra flooring in workplace towers even earlier than the buildings replenish once more with reside human employees.
As each day foot visitors of 350,000 approaches pre-pandemic ranges, the very last thing the “Crossroads of the World” wants is on line casino playing. The hocus-pocus is being pushed by the standard suspects — actual property and resort firms and labor unions — and egged on by Gov. Kathy Hochul, who would possibly instantly carry the statewide ban on new casinos which is presently in impact till 2023.
It’s a snake-oil gambit that may come up snake eyes for Instances Sq. and the general public. What Instances Sq. wants is extra cops — not slots.
If guests need to gamble, they’ll wager $23.99 on Bubba Gump’s industrial-grade shrimp — or on getting photographed with Elmo with out getting taken to the cleaners.
Let’s begin with the apparent: In a world awash in casinos, together with within the US, and the net betting increase, why does any gambler have to go to Instances Sq.? They don’t. The push for casinos there has one aim in thoughts: to counterpoint builders, resort operators and union members, none of whom will doubtless endure if the venues flop and taxpayers foot the payments.
On line casino proponents drool over supposed tax advantages and job creation. However case after case has proven that casinos are nearly at all times monetary boondoggles. Too lots of them across the US went belly-up, together with in Atlantic Metropolis the place taxpayers are having to bail out a number of under-performing properties.
In reality, casinos generate a so-called regressive tax — that means they suck funds from individuals who can least afford it. Overlook James Bond and tuxedoed oligarchs duking it out in Monte Carlo. Poor individuals gamble much more than wealthy individuals. Simply take a look at the sad-faced grandmas who take the bus to the Atlantic Metropolis boardwalk and go residence poorer.
Instances Sq. has completed so effectively with out slot machines that TikTok and Roku not too long ago moved their native headquarters there. Even a significant academic establishment, Touro Faculty, has arrange an enormous “campus” inside one of many workplace buildings. Large new accommodations just like the Exhausting Rock and Riu Plaza opened, assured that the pandemic’s waning will justify the investments.
However one factor stands in the best way of continued progress: crime, which leapt 20% within the first quarter of this yr in comparison with the identical interval in 2021. Excessive-profile Instances Sq. horrors have included ladies pushed to their deaths on subway tracks and show-goers caught in crossfires.
The peril extends past NYPD statistics. Though the world isn’t the open-air drug market and mugging floor of 30 years in the past, any stroller, workplace employee or vacationer can see and odor (due to pot in every single place) the menace.
I’m much more alert than I used to be simply three years in the past. The Three-Card-Monte hustlers aren’t again — no less than not but. However I’m typically pestered by youngsters attempting to promote me pretend CDs and even shadier characters, like those who milled in regards to the Longacre Theatre in a downpour a couple of nights in the past after a efficiency of “Macbeth.”
That is what we have to deal with now — not the imaginary advantages of casinos, the worst guess that town and state would ever make.