Gov. Hochul Rushes to Include Billion-Dollar Casino Licenses in N.Y. Budget

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, D, is pushing to include a provision in the state’s budget that would fast-track three casino licenses — including one catering to the rich in the heart of New York City.

According to The New York Times, Hochul and members of the Democrat-controlled New York State Senate and Assembly are fast-tracking a provision for the state’s budget — due by Friday, April 1 — that would allow for the purchase of three casino licenses, each estimated at $1 billion.

The provision to provide the state with billions of dollars in casino licenses comes as lawmakers look to include in the impending state budget another provision for a $1.4 billion Buffalo Bills’ stadium, of which $850 million will be paid for by the taxpayers, the New York Post reported. According to the Post, Hochul’s husband, Bill Hochul, the senior vice president and general counsel for Delaware North, stands to benefit, as his company has been the purveyor of concessions for the Bills since 1992.

“She absolutely should have recused herself — her spouse has a direct financial interest,” an unnamed Albany lobbyist said. “Worse yet, the whole deal was negotiated behind closed doors — with NFL owners far more informed than any legislators.”

But on the topic of casinos, betting companies are reportedly spending $300,000 a month on lobbying efforts. They are coordinating with a hotel workers union that was renamed last year to the Hotel and Gaming Trades Council. The union argues that the casino licenses, which won’t be permitted until 2023, would provide thousands of jobs.

Additionally, the Times reports that the “union has put big money on the table: It has steered at least $880,000 in campaign contributions to Democrats in Albany since 2020.”

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