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Markowitz In Favor Of Push For Coney Island Casino

Mayor Bloomberg Wary, But Understands Needs For New Revenues
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Coney Island - Brooklyn, NY (file / credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Coney Island – Brooklyn, NY (file / credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – If Gov. Andrew Cuomo succeeds in making table gambling legal in New York, where do you think casinos will crop up?

Some are betting on Coney Island, reports CBS 2’s Don Dahler.

Amusement rides, cotton candy and gambling? Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz says why not?

“I think Coney Island would be the perfect location. It is by the seashore. The amenities are there. It would really be a shot in the arm to employment opportunities and economic activities and restaurants,” Markowitz said Tuesday.

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So where could they fit a casino in the midst of ferris wheels and roller coasters? Well, there is a stretch of land once zoned for amusements that was rezoned in 2009 for residential use. Supporters of the casino said that would be an ideal location, and could bring millions of dollars of revenue to a struggling economy.

“Then Coney Island would offer a dynamic, year-round resort both outdoors and indoors,” Markowitz said.

However, casinos are not without risk. A 1999 study showed that communities within 50 miles of a casino had a 50 percent higher rate of gambling addiction, and an 18 percent higher rate of bankruptcy.

“Gambling is an addiction. Are they going to set aside funding so that we can make sure that if people get addicted to gambling that we will help them out? You know, it’s not just about making money,” said Staten Island Councilman Dominic Recchia, D-Coney Island.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he understands the need to find new revenues, but isn’t convinced gambling is the answer.

“You want to have things that attract people. I’ve never been all that gung-ho on gambling. I’m not sure it’s the panacea, and I worry about it being regressive. I’ve said a number of times that I’m sympathetic to the governor. He’s got to find a way to pay for services, and that’s one of the ways to do it,” Bloomberg said.

But, the mayor added, if gambling is legalized, he’d certainly like the city to share in the revenues. The odds, after all, always favor the house.

The push to bring casino gambling to Coney Island is getting mixed reactions from the locals.

“I guess it’ll be good,” said one resident on Tuesday. “Jobs, economically, brighten up this area a little bit more.”

But some community leaders and residents worry about the social ills it could bring.

“If you hear me Marty Markowitz, forget about it,” one person said.

“Too many problems,” said another man. “They’re going to have to many degenerates, alcoholics, crack users.”

The governor’s plan to legalize gambling still has to pass the state Legislature and a public referendum, which wouldn’t be up for a vote until 2013, and then, there are zoning laws to contend with. Don’t place your bets just yet.

Where do you stand? Make your opinion known in the comments section below!

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