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Cut back on gambling in budget: Padavan

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State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), the state Legislature’s leading opponent on betting, took Gov. David Paterson’s proposed budget to task for what he said contained a rise of gambling initiatives he said would harm New York in the long run.

“Who bears a major responsibility for putting New York at the top of the list in terms of citizens with gambling problems? The state itself,” Padavan said in a statement Friday. “In short, we have turned from the Empire State to the Gambling State. New York must end its practice of state-sponsored and state-supported gambling. Simply put, New York continues to make bad bets for out future with increase gambling options and opportunities.”

Paterson’s budget would eliminate restrictions on Quick Draw, a lottery game that can be played in bars and convenience stores.

The proposal lifts restrictions on the hours of operation, food sales and the size of an establishment that is eligible to carry Quick Draw, Padavan said.

The governor’s budget also removes operating hour restrictions on video lottery terminals, which are currently allowed to be in use for 16 hours a day with a 2 a.m. curfew, Padavan said.

There are no VLT houses in Queens, although they have been authorized for Aqueduct Race Track in Ozone Park. An operator for the VLTs was selected last month, but the process hit a snag when the state Lottery Division would not award the winning bidder a gaming license.

Padavan said state residents spend more than $50 billion on lotteries, scratch-off games, multi-state lotteries like Mega Millions and Powerball, Quick Draw, Off-Track Betting, VLTs and racinos and casinos.

The senator warned that the VLTs planned for Aqueduct will only add to the harmful consequences of gambling.

“As more VLT locations come online, this [$50 billion] sum will certainly grow significantly and so will the troubling trend of problem gambling and gambling addictions. It all adds up to more trouble for New York,” he said.

According to the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Web site, there are no problem gambling treatment programs in Queens.

But there is a gambling prevention program in Rego Park called the Program for the Development of Human Potential.

Citing economists, Padavan said gambling “at best is a zero-sum game.”

He said a study at the University of Illinois found that for every $1 gambling contributes to the economy, it costs taxpayers $3.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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