Yesterday, the New York Times reported that the New York Gaming Association, a trade group that represents gambling interests, made a massive bet on Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Last December, the organization contributed $2 million to the Committee to Save New York, a lobby group that supports Cuomo’s agenda. The next month, the Gaming Association hit the jackpot. In his January State of the State address, the powerful Governor endorsed a proposal to legalize casino gambling in New York State, which quickly won the support of the legislature. Cuomo noted that he had made statements in support of expanded casino gambling prior to the contributions.
As this year’s legislative session winds to a close, we’re curious about what other lobbying the gambling industry has conducted, and to what effect. We want to know: What is the gambling industry seeking from New York State?
If you have information or insight to share, write us, tweet @thenyworld or comment below.
What we found
The $2 million contribution from a gambling trade group to the Committee to Save New York was the industry’s biggest expenditure in influencing Albany last year, and a constitutional amendment to legalize gambling is the main legislative prize it is seeking. But even outside these targets, the gambling industry has been highly active and spent heavily on lobbying lawmakers in Albany last year, our Lobbies at the Top database shows.
Overall, 20 gambling interests spent a total of nearly $3.6 million on lobbying the governor and state legislature and agencies in 2011. Although many of these groups advocated on other issues as well, the majority of the bills they weighed in on were related to gambling.
The constitutional amendment that would legalize casino gambling was only one of dozens of legislative proposals that these groups sought to influence. Aside from the constitutional amendment, key measures that numerous gambling interests weighed in on included:
- A bill that would allow casino gambling in Sullivan County
- A bill to extend the “Catskill region” to include the five counties of New York City
- A bill that would prohibit a horse racetrack from being licensed within 75 miles of an existing licensed racetrack
- A bill that would increase state aid to cities with video lottery gaming facilities
- A bill that would establish antitrust exemptions for certain horse racing agreements, such as non-profit or thoroughbred racing associations
All remain in legislative committees except for the last bill, which was vetoed by the governor.