Gambling Industry Contributes Heavily To Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Campaign

Hard Rock has been among the more generous entities vying for a downstate casino
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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who has drawn praise from industry advocates for fast-tracking the expansion of gambling in the state, has received more than $200,000 in campaign contributions from entities associated with the industry, according to reporting from The New York Times.

In a story detailing Hochul’s record-setting fundraising heading into Tuesday’s Democratic primary, where she is heavily favored, the newspaper reported that more than half of that total came from contributors associated with Hard Rock, which is attempting to land one of the three downstate casino licenses the gaming commission will consider later this year.

Hard Rock executives and others associated with the company have contributed $120,000 to Hochul since she became governor last August after Andrew Cuomo resigned amid accusations of sexual misconduct, according to the report. In all, Hochul has raised more than $34 million so far, putting her in line to run the most expensive full-term campaign ever for governor of New York.

Mobile sports betting success prompts expansion talk

Hochul pushed to include the issuance of three casino licenses in the New York City area in the state’s most recent budget, and earlier this month issued a press release touting the hefty tax revenue the state has taken in since the launch of mobile sports betting in January. New York has reaped $294 million via the state’s 51% tax rate on gross gaming revenue, as the eight licensed operators in the state have booked more than $8.2 billion in sports bets so far.

Any downstate casino operator would be on the hook to kick at least $500 million to the state in entry fees, according to the law.

“We have work to do in gaming,” Sen. Joe Addabbo, chairman of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, told NY Online Gambling last month. “With this Hochul administration, it’s something we can talk about, as opposed to the previous administration.”

Hard Rock is among the companies looking to land one of the three downstate casino licenses, two of which are likely to go to MGM and Resorts World, which already have successful video-gaming casinos in the area. The New York State Gaming Commission will establish a six-member gaming facility location board, with one member named by the governor and another picked by the mayor of New York City, Eric Adams.

New York Mets owner Steve Cohen and his wife, Alexandra Cohen, gave $136,700 to Hochul’s campaign in January. Cohen, too, has been linked to one of the downstate casino proposals, in partnership with Las Vegas Sands, involving a casino adjacent to the Mets’ Citi Field in Queens.

Photo: Kelly Marsh/USA TODAY

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