Legal gambling is big business. And with downstate New York casinos on the horizon and the possibility of either NY online casinos or internet lottery (or both) in the future, everyone is pushing for a piece of the action.
In 2022, lobbyists were paid tens of millions of dollars by gaming companies, developers, tribal nations and labor unions to meet with elected officials and, presumably, influence gambling policy in NY.
According to a review of data published by the NY State Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government, gambling entities combined to spend over $15.8 million to lobby officials in the Empire State last year. Unions, community organizations and business advocacy groups contributed another $1.5 million toward casino or gambling-related lobbying efforts.
Genting tops NY casino spenders
The biggest casino-related spender on lobbying efforts in NY was Genting Group, owner and operator of Resorts World NYC and Resorts World Catskills. The Malaysian-based company spent more than $5.5 million on lobbyists last year, spreading the spending across several subsidiaries and affiliates.
Genting’s Resorts World NYC at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens is a racino that is considered among the frontrunners to secure one of three available downstate NY casino licenses.
Some of the biggest casino names in the world showed up in the ethics commission’s expenditure reports. Lobbyists met with the governor’s office, members of the state Assembly and Senate, the state gaming commission as well officials from NY counties and municipalities. Other state agencies and departments were also targeted by the lobbying efforts.
The likes of Hard Rock/Seminole Gaming ($1.5 million), Las Vegas Sands ($793,000), Bally’s ($440,000), Rush Street ($312,000), Caesars ($212,000), Wynn ($194,000) and MGM Resorts ($193,000) all lobbied NY officials last year.
According to the ethics commission data, the gambling-related subjects addressed by the lobbyists varied. Topics discussed included “casino expansion in downstate region” and “approval of gaming licenses in budget.” Specific pieces of introduced or pending legislation related to gambling were also addressed.
‘Coney Island casino pursuit’ gets right to the point
Other companies, such as Thor Equities, were even more direct in explaining its lobbying spend of nearly $330,000.
Thor is part of a contingent that includes the Chickasaw Nation, Legends Hospitality (Jerry Jones/Yankee Global Enterprises) and Saratoga Casino Holdings, all of which have teamed up to bid for one of the three downstate licenses.
One particular meeting cost $90,000, according to a filing, and included Brooklyn-based elected officials, the gaming commission, the mayor’s office and state officials, among others. The group’s lobbying focus – “Coney Island casino pursuit” – makes clear what the subject matter for that meeting was.
Local, digital interests spent lobbying money in 2022, too
As expected, regional gambling companies, such as racetrack and off-track betting operators, were also listed as lobbying contributors.
Lago Resort & Casino, for example, spent $712,500 for gambling-related lobbying last year. Capital Regional Gaming ($656,000), American Racing & Entertainment ($95,000), Delaware North ($141,000), Nassau Regional OTB ($226,000) and Suffolk Regional OTB ($202,500) are among the NY-based groups who lobbied officials on gambling-related matters last year.
The possibility of online casinos in NY is attracting the attention of digital gaming companies all around the world. The success of sports betting in NY is reason enough for most industry experts to be bullish on the state’s online casino potential. In less than one year, online and mobile sports gambling propelled the Empire State to the top of the legal betting market in the US.
Gaming companies, not to be confused with casino operators, interested in NY’s digital gambling future include IGT ($216,000), Everi ($90,000), Light & Wonder ($66,000), Scientific Games ($42,000), Interblock ($180,000) and Konami ($240,000), among others.
Other notable contributors to casino or gambling-related lobbying efforts include the Oneida Nation ($120,000), AFL-CIO Local 6 ($54,000), Hudson Yards ($206,000), SL Green Reality ($853,000) and New Green Willets ($620,000).