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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Six Lobbyists Are Better Than One

- The Lottery Division's decision to install electronic table games at the state's racinos comes in spite of the fact that the bill authorizing them, which had easily passed the Senate (ah, the good old days - dysfunctional sounds pretty good around now, don't it? at least it has the function part), was not taken up in the Assembly before it adjourned (for now). “We don’t think we need the legislation,” said New York Lottery Deputy Director Bill Murray.

"Electronic table games are considered predominantly games of chance," [Lottery spokesperson Jennifer] Givner said. That's why games such as 21, roulette and craps are among the games we're considering." Such games, she said, are "not predetermined" when it comes to winning. [Buffalo News]
Not everyone agrees.
[Senator Frank] Padavan (R) said a law is necessary for table games and said he will be writing a letter to the Lottery. Padavan was a party in a suit against the Pataki administration over casino games, which are not allowed under the state Constitution except at Indian casinos. The outcome of the case was a ruling that said VLTs are permitted “but not the other games,” Padavan said.

“They’re in violation of the decision,” he charged. [Capitol Confidential]
Whatever your take, you might wonder just how it is that, with the Senate in chaos, and amidst the interminable delays in the racino at Aqueduct, not one, but two racino-related matters have popped up in the last two days. Perhaps the explanation is evident. In this post regarding the presence of the bill approving Louis Cappelli's latest plan at the Concord on Governor Paterson's proclamation for the aborted special session, I noted the developer's expensive taste in lobbyists. I then received an email from a reader which included a complete list of the lobbyists utilized by the various Cappelli enterprises, and it wasn't limited to Patricia Lynch. It's an extensive list, which includes other prominent names such as Brian Meara and Crane, Vacco & Sanders. A quick check on the Project Sunlight site showed that the Cappelli companies had spent over $100,000 on lobbying in Jan-Feb alone. There's probably more, but, as worthy as that website is, I find it harder to navigate than the state's lobbying regulations themselves.

Now, the fact that the announcement about the electronic table games came the day after the Concord bill showed up may not be a coincidence at all. Looking back to last November, when the bill authorizing them was first introduced and endorsed by Governor Paterson, the two articles that I linked to in my post on the subject each singled out Cappelli's venture as benefiting from the move, and they both quoted the same person. Take a guess.
"We think this legislation would be good for all racinos, including the Concord," said Darren Dopp, spokesman for Patricia Lynch Associates Inc., which lobbies on Cappelli's behalf. "The bottom line is that it brings hundreds of millions of dollars to the state and doesn't cost the state a dime."
Well, there's a surprise for you. You might wonder why, if Ms. Lynch is so influential, the bill wasn't considered by the Assembly. But remember that Mr. Silver's chamber is one in which she is likely keeping an extremely low profile. Here we are with the Senate unable to even properly consider routine revenue measures considered essential by localities throughout the state, but this matter is being rammed through despite failing to pass. Amazing.

- The bill that wasn't would have expanded gaming hours in the state.
The expanded hours alone would have generated an additional $36-million statewide per year, Murray said. [Thoroughbred Times]
- A spokesperson for the State Racing and Wagering Board cited the prospect of a full-blown casino just over the Massachusetts border as an incentive for the expanded gaming.
"We just can’t ignore that," New York State Racing and Wagering Board spokesman Joseph Mahoney said. "They’ve opened an office. They’re serious about this. They’re building a consensus of support in that area." [Saratogian]
- The Senate Democrats threatened to take their great big gavel and go home, after the Republicans stayed away from Wednesday's session....pouting after they lost their latest bid in court. However, after Governor Paterson threatened to call the State Police and halt their pay, neither of which it was clear he has the power to do, there's a report this morning that both parties have actually agreed to meet in a full, and presumably, single session. Exactly who will wield the coveted gavel is not clear. Maybe Louis Cappelli?

1 Comment:

El Angelo said...

NY can't ignore MA buliding a casino, but in fairness, Ludlow MA is a hike from Saratoga Springs and about an hour from the NY border.