The threat of harmful environmental impacts from the proposed casinos, especially in sensitive ecological areas such as along the Neversink River, includes:
- Destruction of broad swathes of thriving habitat, plant and animal life
- Compromised water resources through deforestation, erosion, and construction blasting
- Increased risk of toxic substances entering surface and groundwater
- Exacerbated danger of flooding threatening homes and property.
Currently, each year more than 1,000,000 visitors travel up Route 17 to visit the Catskills. The total number of estimated visitors for just one casino is more than 6 million! Building more than one casino could potentially add millions more cars to area roads, presenting a 24-hour a day influx that could make it difficult for full and part time residents to move around the area for business or pleasure. It could also discourage the existing tourist base from continuing to come to the Catskills to enjoy its unique natural beauty. And emissions from so many autos would increase air contamination and foul the quality of the air we breathe.
While it is clear that these environmental dangers exist, no comprehensive environmental review has been completed to quantify the overall impact of bringing the casinos here. In fact, during the Bush Administration, the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs asserted that one of these mega casino projects would have no significant impact on the environment, and thus no full environmental review was necessary.
While casinos are promoted as helping the local economy by bringing people to the area and increasing the local business base, each casino would be a self-contained destination “city” that would have all of the services, food, and retail outlets that visitors would need. As such, they would likely not live up to their promise of bringing significant new revenue to our existing infrastructure of restaurants, bars, service establishments and small mom and pop businesses. Instead, they would create new levels of competition for area establishments, potentially causing businesses in our communities to eventually have to shut their doors.
Based on the experience of other communities where gambling has been introduced, it has been demonstrated that casinos increase the prevalence of problems like crime, prostitution, poverty, violence, child and elder abuse, chemical dependency and suicide, which can and do affect virtually everyone in a given community.
The American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association recognize gambling addiction as a pathological and compulsive mental disorder. Desperate to “chase” and recover gambling losses, pathological gamblers often turn to crime.