Good morning. It’s Thursday. Today we’ll look at how far some would-be casino operators will go to win local support. We’ll also get a primer on curbside composting as the city’s program expands to Brooklyn.
The children at a basketball camp in a Coney Island park looked sharp in T-shirts printed with the logo of “The Coney,” a casino complex proposed for a site near the boardwalk and Nathan’s Famous hot dogs. The Coney sponsored the basketball camp, and although Brooklyn USA Basketball, which ran the camp, says the children were not required to wear them, most did.
The T-shirts were an example of how would-be casino operators are going local to try to generate support for their license applications. The winners probably won’t be announced for several months; at least 11 contenders are expected to be in the running. I asked Dana Rubinstein, who with Nicole Hong has written about the proposed Coney Island casino, to discuss the efforts to drum up support — and the response.
You talked to parents who are angry that children are being used to promote casinos. Is the strategy of sponsoring basketball camps or soccer training sessions backfiring?
That’s hard to say. If anything, the children’s sports sponsorships seem to harden the pre-existing lines between those who do not want a casino coming to their residential community, and those who do.
Those parents opposed to casinos argue that the gambling companies are using their children in a cynical ploy to win community support for a development that will prey on their neighbors. Those who have no strong feelings about the casino prospect, or who support it, seem to have far less issue with the sponsorships. They say that without casino funding, their children might never have gotten to meet David Beckham or participate in a basketball clinic in Coney Island.
Why are would-be casino operators putting their logos on T-shirts and spending to sponsor sports clinics and camps?
For a casino company to win a downstate casino license, it will have to show the state that it has community support. And, the argument goes, one way to win community support is to plow money into children’s programming.
In Nassau County, Las Vegas Sands invited local children’s soccer teams to an event with soccer stars David Beckham and Carli Lloyd. But the kids wore their own team jerseys. In Coney Island, the company seeking a casino license put its branding on the T-shirts of the children participating in the basketball clinic.
Robert Cornegy Jr., a former councilman and professional basketball player who is now consulting for the Coney bid, argued that jersey branding is par for the course, be the sponsor a church or a liquor store. But some parents again felt that the casino bid was putting children in the middle of an ugly fight and teaching their children that gambling is OK.
What do parents who see casino-sponsored sports clinics as opportunities say?
They say that their kids do not know or care where the funding comes from, and welcome free sports clinics and opportunities to meet sports celebrities, no matter the funding source. In Coney Island, some parents said their children might not otherwise have these opportunities. And free backpacks and water bottles from a clinic are difficult to turn down in a community where there are economic pressures and limited summer activities for children.
How clear have the casino sponsorships been? Did parents know before their kids showed up for camps or clinics that there was a casino sponsor?
A spokesman for the Coney Island casino bid said that Brooklyn Basketball USA does not typically disclose clinic sponsors ahead of time. One parent we spoke with was enraged to learn about the sponsorship when she arrived at the park.
In Nassau County, individual soccer clubs seem to have invited children on an ad hoc basis, so some parents were aware beforehand and others were not. We spoke with one father whose wife took their two kids to meet Beckham and Lloyd, only to discover upon arrival that Las Vegas Sands was sponsoring the event. Those parents were also not pleased.
Doesn’t this kind of promotion come close to the line on showing minors in casino advertising, or targeting them? Are state regulators moving to stop sponsorships of children’s sporting events?
Many states, including New York, bar casinos from depicting or targeting minors in advertising. But according to lawyers, the sponsoring of children’s sporting events by gambling companies — particularly gambling companies that want to build a casino in a neighborhood, but haven’t yet, often falls into a gray area that states have yet to regulate.
In New York, regulators have proposed a rule that would bar sports betting companies from marketing to minors, and the ban would encompass putting logos on clothing that are “intended primarily” for people under 21. But that regulation is still pending.
It’s cloudy, with temps in the mid-70s. Showers are likely, starting in the afternoon and persisting into the evening. At night, temps will drop into the upper 60s.
In effect until Sept. 4 (Labor Day).
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Coming soon to Brooklyn: Curbside composting
The Sanitation Department says officials are “knocking on every door” to tell Brooklyn residents what is coming in little more than six weeks, on Oct. 2: Curbside composting.
Brooklyn is the second step as the city expands curbside composting, which began in Queens. The Bronx and Staten Island will join the program in March, followed by Manhattan in October 2024.
The program requires residents to separate food scraps and yard waste from the rest of their trash. Almost anything edible or that grows in dirt can be composted. That includes bread, cereal, coffee grounds, dairy, eggshells, fruits, pasta and vegetables — as well as bones, greasy uncoated paper plates and pizza boxes. And leaves and yard waste, too.
“New Yorkers should not overthink this,” said Councilwoman Sandy Nurse, a sponsor of the Zero Waste Act, a legislative package that the City Council passed in June and called for curbside composting. “Is this something I can eat? Or grow? Cool, it goes in the bin.”
What should not go into the composting bin are items that should be recycled, like metal, glass, plastic, paper and cardboard, as well things like diapers, hygiene products, medical waste and pet waste. Compost materials will be picked up on recycling day; the Sanitation Department has dual-bin trucks that can pick up food and yard waste, as well as recyclables, on the same run.
You don’t have to have a brown bin from the city to compost. Any bin with a tight light and a capacity of no more than 55 gallons will do. But if you want something official looking, you can order one — or just a decal for your own receptacle. Brooklyn residents should order by Sept. 1 to be ready for the Oct. 2 start date.
If you don’t start composting, there won’t be a fine — at first. The city can’t impose fines until six months after all five boroughs have gotten composting service — sometime in the spring of 2025, if the current timetable holds. The fines are expected to range from $25 to $100 for a first offense.
Patched and plaid
We landed at J.F.K. 32 years ago, a family of four. My parents rented an apartment in Queens. We furnished it by picking up discarded pieces that had been left on the curb.
One day, after I found a plaid, high-back couch seven long blocks away, my father and I carried it back to our building and up the stairs to our apartment. My mother and my sister washed it and patched it up.
The next day, a full living room set in pristine condition appeared at the curb in front of the building, put out by a neighbor. Carefully, we carried the plaid couch, now clean and patched, downstairs and brought up the living room set.
The plaid couch was soon gone.
— Julia Moran
Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.