New York, Massachusetts and the Deflated Football


The process of developing casino gaming in Massachusetts has seemed like an anomaly all along. It was very long and often contentious as every potential license had several bidders, each with a different host community. Awarding the licenses did not end the controversy as several companies and communities have explored further legal options; one wonders if there is an end to all of the contentiousness in Massachusetts.

Well, it turns out that Massachusetts was not such an anomaly. The New York Attorney General is investigating the selection process in New York. The board charged with picking a community and a bidder made its selections in December. As one would expect, the winners think the board did a great job. However, the losers do not agree and as is all too common in our politically polarized society, they see a plot.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman appears to be investigating a state siting board’s decision Dec. 17 to select three upstate casinos for gaming licenses. Jeff Gural, the owner of Tioga Downs in the Southern Tier, confirmed to Gannett’s Albany Bureau today that he met with Schneiderman’s investigators Friday in Manhattan. “I was, yes,” Gural said. “My sense was that they wanted to make sure that nothing illegal happened in the process. And I think I made my point. I think that there was a conflict of interest that resulted in the selection of Lago in my opinion. But do I think anything illegal took place? I don’t think so.” Joseph Spector, White Plans Journal News, 2-24-15

The board hired consultants to help vet the bids. The board members are not gaming professionals and undoubtedly needed some professional advice when analyzing the proposals. In fact, most jurisdictions have used consultants under similar circumstances. In the New York case, Taft, Stettinius & Hollister LLP, the consultants may have also been giving advice to some of the bidders. It is being claimed that all three of the winning bidders had employed the company, as did some of the losing candidates.

Of course, the fact that the consultants had worked both sides of the table does not in itself prove the process was corrupted. It does suggest that there might be a legal basis for claiming a conflict of interest and that might be enough to force the process to be repeated. Being forced to repeat the process because of a conflict of interest would trump even Massachusetts. Well, on second thought, it might not, because Boston is still claiming the chairman of the gaming board has a conflict of interest. The mayor of Boston has suggested that Steve Wynn and Steve Crosby are buddies and the selection of Wynn’s project was a foregone conclusion. Massachusetts and New York do have something in common; lots of people are mistrustful of the process.

Maybe the process deserves mistrust. It might have been corrupt in one or both cases or it just might be a sign of our times. We don’t trust each other and if I lose, I think you must have cheated and the referee was helping. Somehow or other, a deflated football seems to creep into everything we do.

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2 Responses to “New York, Massachusetts and the Deflated Football”


  1. 1 Lynne Rosner March 2, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    The Rivers Casino award in Schenectedy is wrought with foul play.  How anyone could vet Mr Galesi for more capital fundraising to build a casino on land that needs the rest of eternity to once again flourish. But its like saying that General Motors helped to destroy this nation.  Its like spitting into the wind.

  2. 2 Ken Adams March 3, 2015 at 8:50 am

    Nice of you to take time to spit into the wind and make my point about polarization.


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