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Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Pop Goes the NYGA

If you heard a loud sound, like a giant bubble bursting, early Monday afternoon, it was probably that of the New York Gaming Association, whose hopes of exclusive control of expanded gaming in the state virtually went up in flames with these five words spoken by Governor Cuomo:  "I 100 percent oppose that."  The governor, whose impressive power was very much in display on a day when Mayor Bloomberg and NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly quickly fell into line on his proposal to stem the obscene volume of NYC marijuana arrests under their watch, was referring to the idea being pushed by NYGA that new casinos should be limited to current racino sites.  "You guys got that point?" he asked, almost mockingly, for emphasis before launching into his slapdown. 

  “I 100 percent oppose that. One hundred percent. I believe it should be an open competition where we bring in the best companies and I believe we should get the best deal for the taxpayer that we can get....I don’t believe the racinos have any claim for primacy.
  I can't imagine that the racinos have a prayer if this governor is so opposed.   And they surely must be lamenting the $2 million they gave to the Committee to Save New York, a business group with ties to Cuomo which actively campaigned for his economic program; that, according to today's NY Times front page investigatory story (Joe Drape's inevitable pre-Belmont bombshell will have to wait for another day I guess...I'd say Thursday).   (And, by the way, if the Times was trying to make the point that the governor was under the influence of that money, this statement pretty much blunted that, and just prior to its publication day too.  Wonder if the governor's men had advance word of the story?)

It will be interesting to read NYGA's reaction.  Thus far, all we've gotten from them has been a steady flow of smug, self-congratulatory canned propaganda about the revenue and jobs they've created and how socially responsible they are, but this changes the game and fast.  If and when it becomes apparent that the racinos will be excluded from the casino sweepstakes, you can expect that NYGA will pivot and become a vociferous opponent of the casino referendum.  With their very existence potentially on the line with the prospect of competing full-scale casinos, and with the Citizens Union decision permitting unlimited donations to SuperPACs also applicable to issue campaigns, a company with the resources of Genting could literally try to buy the referendum's defeat.  But hey, that's the way this Supreme Court says it should be, right?

Also during the press conference, I was reading tweets reporting that Cuomo referred to the current racino arrangement as a "scandal."  Of course, Twitter is highly limited as far as substantive reporting (though quite proficient in reporting out-of-context unsubstantive tidbits over and over and over again), so I was curious to hear exactly what the governor was referring to.  If you listen to the entire statement, as I did here, starting at around the 9:00 mark, it's quite clear what his point was. 
  "I do not want to be in a situation where the assumption is that these tracks have the casinos and we have to figure out how to get money from them.  The current racino situation in this state is a scandal, in my opinion.  You try to find the rhyme or reason on racinos, and why taxpayers get what they get, it defies logic." 
To me, this fits right into the context of his remarks a few months ago when he asked: "What is it worth to this state to have this industry? And how much do we subsidize them? And do we want to?"   Seems clear that the governor is irritated with the current arrangement.  Fortunately for the tracks, their revenue cuts are written into the law of the state and cannot be changed merely by executive edict.  It would instead take an act of a compliant legislature under the sway of a governor who seems to get most of want he wants, and mostly all of what he really wants.

Cuomo also spoke about the collapse of talks with Genting over a convention center at Aqueduct, which you can hear at the beginning of the abovelinkedto video.  Basically, Genting planned to subsidize the convention center with racino money, but wanted a guarantee that that money flow would not be threatened by a casino competitor in NYC.  Cuomo would have none of that.  Instead, he'll just find some other company who is willing to foot the entire bill for a money-losing convention center as long as they can operate a money-making casino.  Which I imagine shouldn't be too hard to find. 


jk said...

Interesting turn of events, seems like an unforced error from Cuomo.

NY State has bled the racing industry dry. Bankruptcy for NYC OTB, strip the land from NYRA, no medical/pensions for NYC OTB retirees. There is nothing left to take from racing except the slot subsidies perhaps. Genting was good for a one shot of revenue for the slot parlor and is now deemed useless as well. Onward and upward to casinos!!

Fascinating how the nanny state is evolving... Gambling is ok, small amounts of pot will be legal but a no go on large soda.

Dan said...

See the story about the union at Belmont to strike on Saturday. I doubt this will happen because if they did they would all be fired. The union is using their leverage because the starting gate crew would be part of this strike.

August Song said...

I heard that the Aqueduct Entertainment Group headed by the dishonorable Mssrs. Paterson, Silver, Sampson, and Smith were thought by Cuomo to be under strong consideration to build the convention center at Aqueduct. The Group shared with Joe Drape of the Times that, "Our bidding skills at winning lucrative deals is second to none."

Figless said...

Convention Center NOT getting built, it made no sense from day one other than in Manhattan, and the convention professionals (and NYC Hotel operators) seem to have gotten the point across to Albany.

Cuomo will TRY to get the Casino installed at Belmont, but Genting (and hopefully the horsemen), will put up quite the battle.

However all powerful Cuomo appears, full scale casinos remain unconstitutional in NYS, and the tribes, Genting and the others, with their very existence on the line, will not fold like a cheap suit (or a NYRA board). At least I hope so.

So much for the kinder gentler Cuomo heh? Man he is full of himself, arrogance without achievement, makes Bloomberg look like a wallflower.

Other than being born to the right father he has done nothing in his life, he would be working on the gate crew if he had a different last name.

A la Mr. Spitzer, arrogance always gets these people like this in the end, he will trip himself up soon, all it takes is one mistake, and this guy has enough enemies that he will crash and burn soon.

Note to the haters, this is not political commentary, but rather commentary on his personality and methods, I actually like a lot of what he has done, just not his way of getting it done.

Anonymous said...

Figless - I ditto your comments. The man is pompous prick, so full of himself!

Figless said...

Wall Street Journal seems to be on his case, investigating his Genting back room meetings, articles for two straight days, could get interesting.