Gambling On Coney Island: Great Idea or Terrible Idea?


Do you think the one thing Coney Island is missing is a nice, seedy casino presence? Do you think the neighborhood should be renovated as a massive tourist and nightlife destination at all, casinos or no? Do you not have particularly strong feelings either way?

Well, Mayor Bloomberg and Marty Markowitz are playing a salty little game of good-cop-bad-cop to help us all decide.

On one side of the debate is wacky ol’ Marty, who thinks it’s a shame New York is losing all that gambling revenue to Jersey and that Coney Island is the perfect spot for casinos to set up shop. On the other is shrewd ‘ol Bloomberg, who has high hopes for the neighborhood as shiny tourist hub but doesn’t approve of this amoral gambling business.

Let’s examine the arguments.

For his part, Bloomberg seemed to throw shade at the institution of gambling as a whole, calling it a “regressive tax plan” and continuing, “Gambling has not been shown to help the neighborhoods where they’re built. It’s just a way to separate people from their money.”

Marty, however, thinks that once table gaming is legalized statewide, there’s no better place to test the waters than Coney. “I want to build a consensus that Coney Island is a sure bet,” the Borough President said. “People are going to gamble. It’s entertainment, it’s relaxing and we are losing all of that revenue to New Jersey. The most beneficial urban casinos are those that are part of a broader entertainment experience, and Coney Island provides it all.”

Hmm, good points all around. On the one hand, as a sketchy, beloved, and increasingly corporate tourist location, Coney Island does make a lot of sense as our next great gambling hub. On the other hand, if one of the most capitalism-driven men who has ever lived is telling us that this particular civic money-making scheme isn’t such a good idea, maybe that’s something worth thinking about?

In any case, we suggest these two crazy kids sit down and hash out their differences at Coney’s upcoming Hooters location. If they play their cards right, Boob Summit 2012 could be this generation’s Seneca Falls Convention!

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.

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