Lobbying Ban Secretly Removed From Casino Law

ALBANY (AP) -

As New York moves to expand gambling, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders have quietly deleted a proposed ban on accepting campaign contributions from casino operators.

Cuomo had said as recently as June 6 that he wanted to rid his casino proposal of politics. Albany’s past expansions of gambling have resulted in some of Albany’s biggest corruption scandals.

But the bill to authorize four casinos — including two in the heart of Jewish areas in the Catskills — negotiated by Cuomo and legislative leaders that passed Friday night won’t prohibit campaign contributions from gambling interests.

In the past two years alone the gambling industry spent more than $2 million on campaign contributions in Albany and another $14 million on lobbying.

A spokesman said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver had no problem with the ban in an early draft, but it disappeared later. Senate Republicans had argued that limiting campaign donations may violate constitutional rights.

All of the negotiations were held behind closed doors.

“Some things we couldn’t come to terms with,” Cuomo said. Instead, he notes the law will require gambling interests to disclose to whom they contribute.

“There will be full disclosure on everything,” Cuomo said.