|The WSJ's previous condescending stance on gambling has changed. This is from today's editorial section. Zowwie!|
By RUSS SMITH
I'm a disappointed man. Actually, worse, I'm a disappointed New Yorker. Michael Bloomberg, my mayor -- contrary to his own admirable business career -- hasn't contributed one creative idea in office. But on the assumption that the mayor doesn't want his city to resemble Newark a year from now, I offer a suggestion that hasn't even been considered, at least publicly, in his cubicle at City Hall. It's time that gambling become legal in Manhattan; and I'm not thinking merely of slot machines at the corner bodega. Rather, the establishment of casinos -- Las Vegas-style -- in locations like Times Square and the West Side piers would immediately yield revenue that's so vital in the current depressed economy.
Think this through: Tourism, which has suffered enormously, is bound to increase dramatically, drawing not only tri-state visitors, but tour groups from the rest of the country and overseas. While there's no shortage of legalized gambling in the U.S., the lure of New York could be expected to trump say, Missouri. The majority of these casino patrons would be casual gamblers, who'd typically spend three hours pulling slots, playing blackjack or roulette and then retire to a nearby hotel. Broadway, restaurants, galleries and retail outlets would inevitably see an uptick in business.
Gambling opponents cite organized crime as a reason to nix casinos in the city. Excuse me for stating the obvious, but the mob is still well-entrenched in New York, as any business owner can attest to. Another objection is rooted in morality, a ludicrous position considering that panhandlers, three-card-monte sharks and other undesirables already roam the streets looking for easy prey. New York, "the city that never sleeps," hardly resembles a Utah community.
Currently, Massachusetts's governor-elect Mitt Romney, a Mormon, is contemplating legalized casinos as a means to cut his own state's deficits. Not surprisingly, the Boston Globe is opposed to the idea, calling it "fool's gold." It's likely Mr. Romney will prevail, despite the provincial naysayers. Mr. Bloomberg, on the other hand, hasn't even discussed the issue. In my mind, that's a dereliction of his duties.
Mr. Smith is editor-in-chief of the New York Press, for which he writes the "Mugger" column.>>