In New York: The real casino game begins

March 20, 2012 11:05 am

Now that lawmakers have taken the first step toward legalizing commerical casinos, the real wheeling and dealing has begun.

The gambling measure is still a long way from reality but casino companies are hiring lobbyists, conducting polls and undermining comeptitors all in an effort to ensure they get one of the coveted licences. The Albany Times Union details some of the backroom shenanigans in a story here.

Big name casino operators from Las Vegas and Malaysia are circling. One casino company has hired a lobbying firm for $10,000 a month. The horse racing industry is lobbying to have the casinos at the race tracks.

Meanwhile, the Indian reservations that already have casinos are fighting to kill the bill. The Oneida Nation, which operates Turning Stone casino, has hired Democratic operative Chris Lehane, who The New York Times described as a master at political dark arts. Lehane is going to head up a team to warn of oversaturation of the gambling market that could threaten jobs and economies.

One sure bet: key decisions will get hashed out in secret and deals will be cut based on politics rather than what is best for taxpayers.

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