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An anti-gambling warrior digs in against NY casino expansion

Published: Monday, Oct. 28 2013 10:55 p.m. MDT

Today's casinos are sited and marketed to regular, local users, Blankenhorn said. This proximity dramatically changes the risk of problem gambling and makes it all the more urgent that state governments collect data on who is driving revenue.

Father vs. son

Blankenhorn has set himself up as a gadfly, a lonely voice in a world where elected officials on both sides fall over themselves for free money from state-sponsored gambling. It's a different world from a generation ago, when elected officials on all sides shunned gambling.

Besides La Guardia, another star witness for Blankenhorn's indictment is Mario Cuomo, also a legendary former New York governor and also a fierce opponent of state-sponsored gambling.

Bringing casinos to New York, Cuomo told the New York Times, "doesn't generate wealth; it just redistributes it."

Not coincidentally, Mario Cuomo is the father of Andrew Cuomo, the current governor and an avid chief backer of casino gambling. Blankenhorn is playing off the father against the son.

And in drawing that contrast, he is quick to note that the pro-gambling politicians of today never have their pictures taken with slot machines.

"Show me a politician who has ever gone to have their photo taken in one, who has ever had a ribbon-cutting ceremony, who has ever posed putting money in a slot machine, (saying) 'I think this is a wonderful thing for my community, and I want my picture in the paper standing next to these shiny new slot machines that I brought to my state to make us all happier and healthier.'

"You never, ever see that," Blankenhorn said, daring Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be the first.

Email: eschulzke@desnews.com

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