Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's effort to amend the New York constitution to expand gambling may be the best chance the state will ever have to unwind the extraordinary mess betting here has become. In a meeting with the Newsday editorial board Thursday, he said he's dedicated to making that happen.
The problem isn't just the hodgepodge of gambling that has sprung up on Indian lands, and on racetracks, without the supervisory structures that states with gaming normally establish. The horse racing industry has been propped up by funds from video lottery terminals, money that would be much better spent on public education. The state has alternately subsidized and crippled off-track betting. And the fiction that gambling is illegal is simply silly. This state has nearly as many gambling machines, with 29,000, as Atlantic City; it has nine racinos at horse tracks and five full casinos on Indian lands.
New York needs a transparent and properly overseen gambling industry with operations that thrive or wither on their own merit, customer interests are protected, and revenues meant for the public coffers go to good use. Now is the right time to codify and control gambling in New York, and Cuomo's on the right path to make it happen.