NY Governor Andrew Cuomo's Gambling Problem

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo's Gambling Problem

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s move to legalize gambling in New York State may give rise to more stories like this one in the New York Times, “Gambling Group Gave $2 Million to a Cuomo Ally“; however, it’s a complicated issue, made even more so by various special interests and the fact that gambling already exists in New York on a significant scale.

The $2 million the Times highlights today, “went to the Committee to Save New York, a business and labor coalition that raised $17 million and spent nearly $12 million in 2011, much of it on campaign-style television and radio advertisements praising Mr. Cuomo and supporting his proposals to cap property taxes and slash state spending.” True, it’s big money and politics, but it isn’t as though it isn’t already there. The group functions as “a counterweight to the labor unions whose money and political muscle have traditionally dominated the Capitol.”

The headline may give one the impression it’s simply a matter of gambling money in politics. A closer look suggests it could also be portrayed as more conservative business groups seeking a means of getting onto the playing field in New York politics, where more liberal labor groups have traditionally dominated. And that says nothing of other very interested parties.

Formally organized casino gambling exists in New York, but it’s been confined to the Indian nations, “the Senecas and Oneidas, say they have been shut out of the discussion about the future of gambling in New York. Neither nation says the Governor has said or done anything so far to allay fears that they could–once again–be on the losing end of state policy.” They aren’t the only existing interest, either.

Enter “racinos,” the name attached to horse racing venues, which have a stake in the future of gaming in New York, as well, ‘”current racinos are going to argue, they currently argue, that the selection should be limited to the current racinos,” Mr. Cuomo said. “I 100 percent oppose that.”‘

With legalized gambling existent in New York, jobs and tax revenues on the line, sure to be accompanied by an expansion of government required if the state more fully embraces legalized gaming to stop bleeding jobs and revenue to New Jersey, which has had legalized gaming in Atlantic City for years, Cuomu has a complex path to navigate simply to get to the point of putting a referendum before the citizens of New York.

If that happens, the various special interests involved are likely to make their voices heard by voters in the usual manner whenever there’s an election, or ballot initiative with much at stake. Until then, most will be keeping their cards close to the vest and maneuvering behind the scenes to see that their interests either aren’t threatened, or benefit in some manner from whatever Cuomo ultimately may propose. Until then, the high stakes came will continue to play out mostly behind closed doors, otherwise known as politics as usual in this day in age – in New York and throughout the nation, most especially in Washington, DC.