Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz put his cards on the table: He wants casinos on Coney Island.
In his State of the State speech last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he wants to legalize table-game gambling in New York State, a suggestion that Markowitz is sweet on.
Cuomo wants pass a constitutional amendment to legalize gambling, which he said would bring in tax dollars and attract tourists to the state.
Markowitz thinks the gamble is a good one and wants to get Coney Island in on the action.
"If serious discussions begin on bringing a casino to New York City, certainly Coney Island is a natural location and should be part of the mix when considering possible sites," Markowitz said yesterday.
Still, roulette wheels and blackjack tables in New York City are a distant dream. A constitutional amendment must be approved by state representatives in Albany and then voters, a process that takes two to three years.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg voiced his doubts that gambling is the right bet for New York's economic woes. "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," the mayor said.
Gambling addiction a concern
With all the good a casino might bring to the economy of Coney Island, some are worried about the bad that might come along with it. Coney Island Councilman Domenic Recchia was enticed by the jobs a casino would provide, but also worried about gambling addiction.
"It could bring in more jobs, but people could be hurt," Recchia said. "More people would have access to gambling, so more people would become addicted to gambling. We have to make sure there is funding for people to get help."
Boardwalk businesses back casino idea
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Valerio Ferrari, president of Central Amusement International, the company that owns Coney Island’s Luna Park and Scream Zone, said that a casino would be a welcome addition to the boardwalk.
"A casino certainly has the potential to bring new visitors, jobs and economic opportunity, and is worth assessing further," Ferrari said.
Dick Zigun, the self-proclaimed Mayor of Coney Island and founder of the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, is all in too.
"We had gambling here from 1860-1910 — everything from three-card monte to race tracks and heavyweight championship boxing," Zigun said. "I am for Coney casinos.”