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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Embattled Governor Extends Racino Hours

Governor Cuomo - who has other problems these days - quietly signed the bill that permits the state's racinos to remain open until 6AM.

Genting New York, operator of the successful casino at Aqueduct Racetrack, was said by sources to be among the most active promoters of the bill. [Bloodhorse]
 Because, I guess, they don't make enough money at Resorts World as is.
A legislative memo accompanying the bill states the bill's intent simply: "The purpose of this bill is to enhance the revenues of video lottery gaming facilities in New York."
 Obviously.  But at who's expense?
"There are weekend nights when we have a few hundred people on the floor when we close," said Taryn Duffy, spokeswoman for Empire City Casino in Yonkers, explaining the need for the change.  [The Legislative Gazette]
I can't say from experience, because it just so happens that I have not been amongst those few hundred people.  But I would just venture a guess that the scene at 4 AM doesn't look much like the one depicted on the home page of Empire City's website.

Y'think? I'm not sure if it ever really looks like that. I'd venture an additional guess that the scene at 4 AM isn't much less depressing than any time one walks into one of these things. And what happens when the same few hundred people are still on the floor at 6 AM, then do we go for 24 hours, as seems inevitable anyway, especially once the full-fledged casinos open their doors?

So it seems obvious to say:
"It's a law that callously targets problem gamblers," Coalition Against Gambling in New York Chairperson Stephen Schafer said.
And this is, as we've said, the racinos' idea of "responsible gaming;" the same commitment to such that I'm sure we'll see at the casinos.

The law also permits the racinos to expand their "free play" programs designed to lure gamblers with....well, "free play."
The amount of tax-free free play credits a casino can offer their customers is currently capped at 10 percent of their annual income. The new legislation would increase this to 15 percent. "Free play is the only marketing tool that we have," [Yonkers'] Duffy said.
Really? Empire City/Yonkers' advertising might fall into the 'ubiquitous' category over the years on TV and on billboards and taxis. And the racinos have been permitted to devote 8.6% of revenues for marketing, according to NYGA's 2012 annual report.  So, if they are having a marketing problem, it's probably due to other factors such as, for example, the general malaise that seems to be well underway in the casino industry in the Northeast even as casinos continue to expand.

 - With all the focus on the competition for the four casinos, it's virtually forgotten that there is still a slot open for another harness track with a VLT parlor.  After three bidders failed to obtain a license a few years ago, another effort is underway; this one way up north in Alexandria Bay, just 30 minutes from the Canadian border.  And though the location falls within the exclusivity zone of the St Regis tribe - as negotiated with Governor Cuomo as he cleared the landscape for his casino referendum - the Times Union reports that, according to the Gaming Commission - the state's agreement with the Mohawks doesn't prohibit a harness track or VLT facility from operating
[Developer Mark] Bohn wouldn't name the other members of his development group except to say it includes heavy hitters in the financial, gaming and horse racing industries. An outside consulting firm performed a market study for Bohn and his partners, and that data makes them think there's room for another harness track in New York.
 - As far as the aforementioned "other problems" that Cuomo is presently dealing with, perhaps you read the long investigative report in the Times about his staff's interference in the operation of the Moreland Commission that he created to, as he emphatically promised in his campaign, root out corruption in Albany.  The governor's 13 page reply to the Times is, typically as these things go, filled with technical arguments rather than addressing the practical questions, including one that I'd like to know (and which, curiously, was not amongst the 11 questions submitted by the Times' reporters) - Why did you say, with great fanfare, this....
"Anything they want to look at, they can look at — me, the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the comptroller, any senator, any assemblyman.”
......if, as he contends now, that was never ever the intention?  The response contends that the commission investigating the governor who created it would "not pass the laugh test?"  (We're not laughing, by the way.)  Though one theory is that the fact that the commission was deputized by Attorney General Schneiderman indeed gave them that right.

Cuomo's statement earlier this year that: “It’s my commission. I can’t ‘interfere’ with it, because it is mine, it is controlled by me” could turn out to be his "steamroller" moment.  Look, I could go on and on, but it's not the subject of this blog (though who knows, perhaps I'll have time to start a new one some time in the near future).  So let's just, trying to stick to the topic, say this:  If the governor feels that way, that can be applied to most any state agency or commission to which he appoints the members; such as the Gaming Commission which ultimately is responsible for the siting of the casinos.  So, I suppose that Cuomo feels perfectly entitled to interfere - or "not interfere" or whatever he wants to call it - with that process too.  And you can bet that he has, and that he will continue to do so.


jk said...

Cuomo's presidential aspirations are over with and it could cost him being Governor. This one is not going away.

Figless said...

Great job by the NY Times. I have never typed that before, enjoyed it so much let me do it again, Great job by the NY Times.

Makes me wonder who their preferred presidential candidate is? Wonder if this would have seen the light of day under the prior editor?

Figless said...

Back when it all began, someone here contended that Cuomo's arrogance would ultimately be his undoing. Nailed it.

Bags are packed, off to Spa, good luck everyone.