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Monday, October 31, 2011

Casino Field Day for Lobbyists

The NY Post reports today that various "gambling interests" have spent some $2.5 million over the last year on lobbying with respect to the push for a constitutional amendment legalizing casino gambling in New York State - with the lion’s share coming from firms representing the state’s nine track racinos.

Genting, the deep-pocketed Malaysian gambling and resort firm operating Resorts World, has already emerged as the lobbyist’s best friend in Albany.

It has hired four of Albany’s most powerful lobbying firms to push its interests in the state capital. They are firms headed by Patricia Lynch, who is a former top aide to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, ex-Republican state Sen. Nick Spano, ex-state Senate staffer John Cordo and racing maven Brian Meara.

Genting is paying the four firms a combined $1 million. [NY Post]
This of course is to encourage Albany to pass legislation in the session which starts in January 2012. Then, they'll have to do it all over again in 2013, at which time it's possible that the Senate will have flipped to the Democrats and the dynamics will be different. And then, imagine all the cash that will be spent on campaigning in favor of the required referendum in November of 2013!

At the same time, Genting is no doubt opening its wallet to fight for casino gambling in Florida, where it spent $236 million to buy the Miami Herald building, and where it plans to invest more than $3 billion in the project.

Nice. And you mean to tell me that, whether it's obligated to or not, Genting couldn't spring for a relative pittance to help spruce up the horseplayers' facilities at Aqueduct with which it shares a building, just a little bit? Just to be a nice neighbor, and to take a little pride in its grand creation?


Anonymous said...

So many of these lobbyists have been major factors on other bidding teams throughout the racing and gaming award process. This whole thing appears to have been a lobbyist's deal from the get go.

steve in nc said...

Call me a cynic, but I'm betting that Genting didn't get so rich by being neighborly. I just don't associate a great sense of civil duty with any purveyors of one-armed bandits.

They're in it to make a buck and will only spend a buck to help racing survive if their referendum fails and they know they won't be able to operate without a functioning racetrack.

Anonymous said...

Racing at Aqueduct will be gone within five years.

Figless said...

Genting is still better than AEG, and no matter how much they spend I doubt they will get the constitution amended.

AC and the Native Americans will spend just as much to prevent it, the only winners are the lobbyists and the politicians as usual.

And yes Genting could have spent some money to spruce up the Big A racing plant, but why would they? Not in there interest to do so.

Thats what the money specifically allocated for capital improvements is supposed to accomplish. If their racing "partner" NYRA chooses to spend it elsewhere what are they supposed to do?

Certain there were meetings about this and Genting probably exited them shaking their heads in disbelief that NYRA would not invest to bring the racing plant up to speed before the casino opening.

Figless said...

While I doubt racing will be gone from the Big A in 15 years the purse increases may be if somehow I am wrong and table games ARE implemented.

The Horsemen and NYRA need to be proactive in negotiating a piece of that lucrative pie, in fact they probably missed the boat on this as it should have been speculatively included in the Franchise agreement.

But as I wrote above I highly doubt it will happen, there are too many folks against this, the only reason it has any traction now is the dire state of the economy which will not last.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised anyone would think that Genting would have done anything to improve the Racing part of Aqueduct during the past year. Please, stop and think for a second about the amount of work that was necessary to get the building to where it is now in LESS THAN ONE YEAR. Of course they did nothing in NYRA's racing area. In all fairness, give them a year, and let's see what things look like when the doors open for racing for the 2012-13 season. I realize it sounds like a long time today, but come on, we have waited ten long years for this, why not enjoy the HUGE impact this is going to make on the RACING, and stop bitching about the condition of the building, at least for a few minutes.

This is the brightest time NY Racing has seen in MANY years...yet all I seem to read here is that the Aqueduct racing area is still a dump. I realize horseplayers are negative, but this is ridiculous. Feel free to ridicule me in one year...but can't we be a little optimistic right now?

Alan Mann said...

9.48 - I don't disagree at all about it being unreasonable to expect significant renovations to the racing side at this time. Only saying that just a few cosmetic improvements - just a thorough cleaning for heaven's sake - would make the place bearable in the meantime. Maybe that's happened, we'll see.

Anonymous said...

with all the filth at AQ I think the Occupy Wall st crowd would feel right at home.

Figless said...

I never expected Genting to do anything for the Racing side, but I did expect/hope NYRA would allocated the new capital improvement money toward sprucing the place up. Granted it has not begun to flow yet, but they had enough money to "improve" the Spa and Belmont so they should have enough to perform basic maintenance at the Big A. We'll see soon enough.

I do believe Genting is running the AQU concessions on the racing side so that alone should be an improvement.