Personally, I am huge fan of casinos. I don’t enjoy gambling so much as the excitement that comes along with a destination weekend to a place like Las Vegas or Atlantic City. It’s a lot of fun. That is until Sunday, when I feel like crying and I want to go home. But those first few days are simply magical.

The problem with casinos is that they always promise more than they deliver. New York State voters will consider a change to the constitution that would legalize gaming and authorize up to 7 casinos upstate. It’s not a bad idea, but some believe it’s just not necessarily the answer to the economic doldrums that have plagued those local economies. A great lesson is Atlantic City. In an excellent editorial that my colleague Liz Benjamin linked to this morning, it’s clear that the addition of casinos to Atlantic City failed to revitalize that destination resort community which had certainly seen better days by the 1970s.

In 1964, New Jersey Governor Richard Hughes convinced his friend Lyndon Johnson to hold the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City. Hughes, who was on the short list for Veep, was quickly removed from that list after New Jersey hosted it’s last National Convention. It was a disaster. Embarrassingly so. AC was not equipped to handle a convention of that size and it showed. The silverware in the banquet hall was dirty, the service was horrendous and the boost in the arm that the convention was supposed to bring wound up backfiring.

New Jersey came up with a new idea a decade later. Introduce casinos. The problem was that they did that all wrong too. For starters, there was a “moat” around the casino properties along the boardwalk. People didn’t ever have to leave the tourist area. Gambling remained illegal everywhere else in the city. While this might have been good for the corporate casinos it was horrible for the ailing city, which got none of the economic benefits. At least in Las Vegas, it’s fun to hit some of the local spots along the strip, even if it’s a different experience than it would be at The Wynn. Gambling is legal everywhere, which makes a huge difference when it comes to spreading around the precious dollars coming into the city of Las Vegas.

It’s unclear at this point what the model would be for New York’s casinos. But one thing is certain, there is no guarantee the money will make it’s way to those most in need. As Mario Cuomo famously said in 1994, bringing casinos into a state “doesn’t generate wealth, it just redistributes it.”