Yesterday’s New York Daily News featured a story about a pawn shop opening up near the Aqueduct racino, which is scheduled to open this summer. The owner hopes to make huge profits from gamblers seeking to chase their losses from a day (or more) at the casino.
The predatory gambling trade cloaks the reality of highly addictive machines and questionable business practices with the promise of economic development and new jobs. But, just what kind of development will casinos bring? Pawn shops, payday lenders, ATMs with exorbitant fees? These are the businesses that thrive in a casino economy. Our government needs to end the policies that are growing the casino economy and develop new ones that promote real economic development and the growth of businesses, large and small, that do not profit from the excessive financial losses of others. You can read the full story below.
Betting on racino: New pawn shop open for biz near Aqueduct
by Mark Morales
New York Daily News
Sunday, June 19th 2011
The first bet has yet to be laid down at the Aqueduct racino, set to open in late summer.
But one spinoff business already has set up shop in anticipation of when customers’ hot streaks run cold.
Amit Verma, owner of the pawn shop Nassau Buyers on Rockaway Blvd. in Ozone Park, said he’s anticipating a flurry of business once Resorts World New York opens.
He said the shop is more than just a smart business move – it’s a service.
“I’m not here to take advantage of people. I’m here to help as much as I can,” said Verma, 28.
“When [gamblers] run out of money, they usually have a nice Rolex, some jewelry or a diamond ring. They’ll either sell it to us or pawn it.”
Verma said he heard from a friend four months ago that the racino was moving to town. His brother found space for the shop a block away from Aqueduct.
Nassau Buyers opened for business a month ago, Verma said, noting he expects to bring in 30 times the business he’s doing now.
“We’re seeing 10 people a week. We’re expecting 300 people a week,” he said.
But critics of gambling said pawn shops are omens of the dark side of the industry.
Jim Maney, executive director of the New York Council on Problem Gambling (NYCPG), said these businesses enable addicts who desperately try to win back their money after hitting a cold streak.
“The moment you start chasing your losses, that becomes the cycle. Even if you make it back once, you’ll believe you’re going to hit it once again,” Maney said.
Elizabeth Braton, chairwoman of Community Board 10, said she will press the NYPD to make sure the pawn shop doesn’t attract the wrong kind of clientele.
“We will be urging the Police Department to be proactive and discourage those who are trying to illegally pawn stolen property,” she said.
Verma said he has talked with racino officials to advertise there using flyers and billboards once it’s up and running.
But racino officials denied the claim.
As for gambling addiction, racino officials said they have been working with Maney’s group to implement a “corporate responsible gaming policy.”
“They will be assisting us in providing both training to our personnel and providing NYCPG problem gambling printed materials and flyers, which will be displayed in prominent areas of our facility,” said Stefan Friedman, a spokesman for Resorts World New York.
If business does as well as Verma anticipates, he said he’ll expand to other locations nearby.
Another pawn shop is under construction across the street from Verma’s store.
Verma said his hook to beat the competition will be offering hockers the best deal for their prized possessions.
“You want to get the most money for whatever you have,” Verma said.
“That’s what we’re here for.”
Calling all qualified local suppliers
Queens companies looking for a piece of the action from the Aqueduct racino are about to hit the jackpot.
Resorts World New York officials said the search is on for qualified local suppliers for food, furniture, waste hauling and other goods and services.
The developer has already purchased from at least three local companies that are certified by the state as Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises, or MWBEs, officials said.
They include Liberty Office Supplies in Richmond Hill, Eastern Communications in Long Island City and Weeks-Lerman in Maspeth.
There is, however, no target number for MWBE purchases for the racino when its doors open in late summer, officials said.
“Any local vendor that is able to supply a specific product – and that meets the necessary requirements and specifications – is encouraged to bid,” Stefan Friedman, a spokesman for Resorts World New York.
City Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) said he’s preparing a list of shops and businesses in his district so that any group developing in the area can know which businesses they can hire.
“We don’t have to spend energy protesting. We can spend our energy supporting projects and fostering job growth,” he said.
Wills said the website where the list of local businesses can be found will be launched in August.