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Reporter's Notebook

August 17, 2013

Following the money in the casino debate


Meanwhile, the amount of casino industry money being poured into the campaign coffers of New York politicians has raised the eyebrows of good government groups. Common Cause has reported that the gaming industry in just the past two years has doled out more than $2 million in contributions in Albany and spent another $14 million on lobbying expenses.

Among the big beneficiaries have been Cuomo, whose campaign raked in $242,000 from gaming interests, while the lobbying group created to produce TV spots promoting the governor and his policies, the Committee to Save New York, scored $2 million last year from gaming interests.

Common Cause revealed that state Sen. John Bonacic, R-Mt. Hope, the chairman of the Senate Racing and Wagering Committee, took in $76,000 from gaming interests, while Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow, D-Yonkers, the chairman of the gaming committee in the lower house, collected $59,000 from the industry.

At a gaming conference this week, Bonacic, according to the Saratogian newspaper, said he wants a marketing campaign that urges New Yorkers to “Vote No. 1” — No. 1 being the ballot position of the casino referendum in question.

We admit that we’d need a crystal ball in high definition to determine if casinos will grow the upstate economy. But it’s a safe bet that the lobbyists in Albany and their favorite politicians are not going to be hurt by this referendum.

JOE MAHONEY is a staff writer at The Daily Star. Contact him at

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