Senator Ramos Comes Out Against Citi Field Casino

State Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Queens) announced that she would not support state legislation that would open the door for the construction of a casino in Senate District 13, which the Senator represents.

In 2013, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo championed the passage of Proposal One. Proposal One, which was staunchly opposed by New York Families Action, amended the State Constitution to allow for the issuance of seven state licenses to open Las Vegas-style casinos on non-Indian lands in New York. New York voters approved the proposal in the November 2013 elections; voter approval of Proposal One was facilitated by the Cuomo administration’s inclusion of slanted ballot language. In the years following the passage of Proposal One, four Vegas-style casinos opened in upstate New York. Next year, licenses are expected to be issued to allow three new Vegas-style casinos to open in the New York City metropolitan area.

As City & State New York recently reported, a dozen different locations in and around New York City are in play as potential new casino sites. One of those locations is the Citi Field parking lot in Queens, where New York Mets owner Steve Cohen wishes to build a casino. According to the Queens Chronicle, “[because] the parking lot at the stadium is legally parkland, in order for anything to be built at the site, the state Legislature must pass parkland alienation legislation.” After holding multiple town halls to solicit voters’ input on the Citi Field proposal, Sen. Ramos announced that she would not introduce the parkland alienation legislation. (The Senator’s Assembly counterpart, Asm. Jeffrion Aubry, D-Queens, supports the legislation and the proposed Citi Field casino.) Sen. Ramos’s opposition will make it difficult or impossible for the Citi Field proposal to move forward.

In her announcement, Sen. Ramos explained that residents of Senate District 13 “‘want investment and opportunity, we are desperate for green space, and recreation for the whole family. We disagree on the premise that we have to accept a casino in our backyard as the trade-off.’” The Senator added, “‘I resent the conditions and the generations of neglect that have made many of us so desperate that we would be willing to settle’” for a casino in the neighborhood.

New York Families Action does not agree with Sen. Ramos on many issues. However, she is right to oppose the Citi Field casino proposal, and her political courage in the face of well-funded opposition should be applauded. Casinos encourage addictive gambling, harm nearby neighborhoods, threaten the viability of nearby small businesses, and lead individuals and families into poverty. As a Christian organization, we stand opposed to the ongoing love affair between New York politicians—Democrat and Republican alike—and the casino industry. Government should not promote predatory enterprises. Christian voters from the New York City metropolitan area should be aware of the casino proposals in their respective neighborhoods and should contact their elected officials to express opposition.

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