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Bloomberg: Casinos in Coney Island are a bad bet • Brooklyn Paper

Bloomberg: Casinos in Coney Island are a bad bet

Shark tank: Mayor Bloomberg, Borough President Markowitz, and Councilman Domenic Recchia announced on Thursday that a new, planned exhibit at the New York Aquarium will contain 40 sharks and cost more than $100 million.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Mayor Bloomberg wants to turn Coney Island into a glitzy, year-round tourist destination replete with shops, shows and restaurants, but he says he’s unwilling to gamble on something that could bring all three to the People’s Playground in one shot — casinos.

Bloomberg said he wouldn’t want to see gambling emporiums open on the Boardwalk — an area the city is slowly rebuilding by bringing in new eateries and attractions — on Monday, calling money games involving cards, dice, and one-armed bandits a “regressive tax plan.”

“Gambling has not been shown to help the neighborhoods where they’re built,” Bloomberg said. “It’s just a way to separate people from their money.”

But his comments were quickly trumped by Borough President Markowitz, who has been pushing for casino gambling in Coney Island since Gov. Cuomo announced his plans to legalize table gaming in the state.

Albany legislators currently say they are open to having casinos in Coney Island or Willets Point, Queens — and Markowitz is already pushing state lawmakers to bring gaming to the amusement district.

“I want to build a consensus that Coney Island is a sure bet,” Markowitz 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.”

If casinos open in Coney, it wouldn’t be the first time it was a gambling hub.

Starting in 1860, Gravesend and Brighton Beach were gambling havens, run by the notorious John McKane, Brooklyn’s version of Nucky Thompson from “Boardwalk Empire.”

That party came to a halt when gambling was outlawed in 1910, but in the late 1970s, the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce backed a proposal to develop casinos near the Boardwalk, even going as far as putting up a banner by the Belt Parkway reading, “Welcome To Coney Island, the Perfect Resort for Casino Gambling.”

—with Danielle Furfaro

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