Casino interests fork over big money to Albany officials backing gambling expansion

Posted at: 10/07/2013 4:48 PM
Updated at: 10/07/2013 6:41 PM
By: Bill Lambdin

ALBANY - According to information put together by Common Cause New York, the campaign committees for the Assembly Democrats and Senate Republicans each were given more than 400 thousand dollars since 2011 by gambling supporters.

Governor Cuomo's re-election committee harvested another 361 thousand dollars over the period.

The money certainly helped keep everyone positive about the need for casino expansion in New York State.

"What is being done right now works for them," said Barbara Bartoletti of the League of Women Voters. "It is the status quo and it's how they get elected and how they want to stay elected."

Big money donations to influential politicians and political organizations are legal in New York, provided you follow certain rules and procedures.

It can't be a direct bribe, but politicians vehemently defend the current system where grateful organizations reward sympathetic lawmakers with generous support.

This year the Cuomo administration is accused of taking the system to a even higher level by rewriting the ballot question that would authorize casino expansion to include "job growth, increasing aid to schools and lower property taxes" without negatives opponents predict like bankruptcies, divorce and family abuse.

The exercise in creative ballot writing is scheduled for court later this week.

"I think the Governor's office and the casino interests are all hoping to make sure that they're rolling loaded dice when it comes to this election," said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group.