From Sheldon Adelson To Sports Betting, New York Gaming Is Changing

Written By Nicholaus Garcia on December 17, 2018

Gaming analysts say New York is the top market remaining where operators can still make money. Which is why Sands casino magnate and billionaire Sheldon Adelson is attempting to leverage his political clout to win himself a new casino in the state.

“New York is probably one of the last markets out there that you can make money on,” Alan Woinski, a gaming industry consultant, told Politico on Wednesday.

Leveraging political clout

According to Politico, Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corporation (LVS) hired Howard Glaser, former operations chief to NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to help broker a meeting between officials from the company and New York business leaders.

LVS has also hired the lobbying firm Kivvit, which has direct ties to Cuomo. The firm employs both Maggie Moran, the governors 2018 campaign manager, and Rich Bamberger, Cuomo’s former communications director.

Adelson’s company was also able to strike a deal with Peter Ward, head of New York’s hotel workers union, a sign that LVS means business. The deal guarantees hotel and casino workers the right to organize at any future Sands facilities in the state.

Here is what a spokesperson for LVS told Politico:

“Sands has had the opportunity to meet with people representing the business community, civic organizations and organized labor. These discussions have given the company both important insight on New York as well as producing tangible results, such as the labor peace agreement the company reached with Peter Ward and the Hotel Trades Council.”

Representatives from the Hotel Trades Council were not immediately available for comment.

New York casino roadblocks

One hurdle standing in Adelson’s way is New York state law.

In 2013, the state authorized seven non-Indian casinos. However, the state cannot issue any new licenses in New York City until 2023 or seven years after the first upstate casino became operational.

Additionally, there are major roadblocks preventing the four current commercial casinos from permitting sports betting. Technically sports betting is legal at the four NY casinos in upstate, but first, regulations must be introduced by the state gaming commission.

So far, the gaming commission has failed to do so.

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Political turnover

Secondly, there are major changes coming to NY state politics that could drastically impact gaming legislation.

Long-time chairman of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, Sen. John Bonacic, decided to retire and not run for re-election. The November elections also saw Republicans handing the keys to the Senate over to Democrats.

Senator Joseph Addabbo will be the new gaming chairman in the Senate which gives sports betting advocates hope.

Addabbo has been the Ranking Minority Member on the committee and has not only supported sports betting but daily fantasy sports (DFS) legislation as well.

However, a major roadblock comes in the form of the new chair of the powerful Senate Finance Committee.

Any bill dealing with state finances must first pass through the finance committee where it must get the approval of the new chair, Senator Liz Krueger.

To put it simply, Krueger opposes any form of gaming expansion. She has voted against DFS legislation and was one of two votes against Bonacic’s sports betting bill this year. As chair of the committee, Krueger can prevent a bill from being considered simply by not putting it on the agenda.

There is hope. Assemblyman Gary Pretlow will continue to chair the Racing and Wagering Committee in the House and Cuomo recently came out in support of sports betting legislation.

Cuomo can also put any legislation he chooses into the state budget, including sports betting. Cuomo must present his budget to the legislature on or before February 1. The new year is approaching very quickly, and so to might sports betting.

Nicholaus Garcia Avatar
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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick comes from West Texas where he graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in psychology. After a five-year stint in Chicago, where he wrote about local politics and graduated with a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia College Chicago, he moved to Washington, D.C. to write about issues related to gambling policy, sports betting and responsible gaming.

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