The Gambling Bit Top – a Three Ringed Circus in NY

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 Yesterday, I thought one blog about New York City as the grand price of casino gambling  would cover the expansion of gaming in the Empire State for at least a month or two; not so, as the governor is a restless and determined man.  Today there were several new pronouncements, quotes and media stories on the gambling governor.  And, Governor Cuomo of New York does seem to be determined to become the gambling governor.   At the end of last week, Cuomo announced that he and Genting were not going to get a deal done for a mega resort at Aqueduct.  That opened the door for speculation and bidding on where a NYC casino might be located and who might build and operate it; the bidders came first Sands, MGM and Caesars; but the speculators followed hard on their heels.  Real Estate agents and developers immediately started to scour the City for potential gambling resort sites – and dreaming of all of the other developments that might fit in the area around a casino resort, and of all of the money they might make if theirs turned out to be the chosen location.

The promise of expanded gaming in New York is not limited to the City and today that was the storyline, the rest of the state; the racino guys around the state are hoping to be candidates for a full-fledged casino.  If the voters of the state approve the casino referendum in 2013, the state could have 7 additional casinos, either free standing or as part of one of the existing racinos.   Seven potential casinos sets up additional speculation;  just where might those casinos go? Up to this point, the racetracks believed they were a shoo in, but the governor has just vetoed that idea.  Cuomo said, without equivocation, he would was guaranteeing that there was no guarantee that the racinos would become one of the casinos; he called the slot machine-racetracks operations a “scandal.”

The governor is determined to dramatically expand gaming in New York, raise more money for the state, keep New Yorkers’ gambling dollars at home and generate billions of dollars of investment around the state.  But at the same time, he is out to control the existing gambling.  Besides warning the racinos and racing operations to clean up their acts, he also threaten at least one Indian tribe.  The Seneca Nation has been in a long battle with the state over revenue sharing; the tribe has refused to make any payments until the state and the local entities clean up their acts – a common theme in New York, a clean act or more correctly an act that needs cleaning.  Cuomo is threatening to allow a non-Indian casino to be built in Buffalo, the tribe’s home market, if the tribe does not agree to the state’s terms.

Control appears to be the central theme in the governor’s actions.  Governor Cuomo further wants to take away from local governments and the legislature the authority to grant permission for a casino to any specific locality, or to any specific project.  Instead he would like to create a commission for that purpose, oh, and appoint the commissioners himself.  Ah, if the governor controls everything, who is to control the governor?  There are sure to be some candidates for that position as this plays out over the next year or two; at the moment, however only one has stepped forward, the Wall Street Journal.

As the governor is rushing around making declaration after declaration, threat after threat, the Wall Street Journal is running around behind him looking for his misdeeds.   The Journal published an article revealing the amount of campaign donations that have come from gambling sources, associations and would-be developers.  Welcome to New York, the new home of the gambling big top, a three ringed circus for gamblers, politicians and speculators.

After Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that a $4 billion plan for a new convention center and casino in Eastern Queens has fallen by the wayside, the city’s commercial real estate industry is weighing in about alternative locations within the five boroughs that could support casino gambling and new mixed-use development surrounding it.  Jacqueline Hlavenka, Globe St, 6-5-12

 Showing a surprising hostility toward gaming interests lobbying in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo  called the state’s racino structure “a scandal” and abruptly broke off his partnership with Genting.  James M. Odato, Times-Union, 6-5-12

 New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is making clear that racetrack operators will not get their wish to get exclusive rights for new, Las Vegas-style casinos if New York next year approves a sharp expansion of gambling across the state. “I 100% oppose that, 100%,’’ Cuomo told reporters  Tom Precious, Blood-Horse News, 6-5-12

 Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is not ruling out placing non-Indian casinos in Western New York if the state and the Seneca Nation cannot resolve a years-long dispute over revenue-sharing payments from the tribe’s three gambling facilities… raised the stakes in the unresolved talks between his administration and the Seneca Nation over more than $400 million in held-up casino revenue payments. Tom Precious, Buffalo News, 6-5-12

The governor, who also said he opposes local communities being able to hold separate referendums on casino developments if the state next year approves a big gambling expansion. Tom Precious, Buffalo News, 6-5-12

 A lobbying group controlled by Genting Bhd. and other gambling interests donated $2 million to a powerful committee that backs New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at around the same time that the governor announced he would push to legalize casinos. The New York Gaming Association made the donation in early December to the Committee to Save New York, a business and trade union group that has spent $12 million to support Mr. Cuomo’s agenda…News of the donation came as Mr. Cuomo announced that casino developers would compete to build a gambling hall in or around New York City. Jacob Gershman, Wall Street Journal, 6-5-12




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June 2012
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