October 28, 2013 - 9:28 AM
By Tom Precious
ALBANY -– The major pro-casino organization reported it raised $2.1 million in a recent three-week period and spent $361,000, much of it on consulting, digital ads, mailings and production of a television commercial.
[UPDATE: With new numbers in, the total actually goes to $2.85 million.]
New York Jobs Now, whose members include business, casino and labor interests, raised most of its money from companies with an eye toward developing casinos in the Catskills region. The New York City teachers union pumped in $250,000 to the effort; backers claim the proposed seven casinos will bring millions in additional aid for public schools.
The pro-casino effort, run out of the headquarters of the Business Council of New York State with help from advisers to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, beginning Oct. 1 received $500,000 donations from Yonkers Racing Corp.; Genting New York, which runs the big casino at Aqueduct racetrack in Queens; and EPR Properties, which is seeking to run a casino in the Catskills.
Saratoga Harness Racing, which also wants a full casino as proposed under Cuomo’s plan, kicked in $250,000, as did American Racing & Entertainment, which is hoping to build a Las Vegas-style casino in the eastern part of the Southern Tier. The Mashantucket Pequot Indians, which own Foxwoods casino in Connecticut, donated $100,000, while Empire Resorts donated $125,000 and Nevele Investors gave $50,000; all three have Catskills casino plans. Some groups, such as Nevele, which spent $40,000 the past few weeks, also are running their own campaigns separate from the New York Jobs now effort.
[UPDATE: Nevele officials this afternoon said its investment group has donated another $50,000 to the casino group since last week's election board filing deadline. Also, recent 24-hour donation reports, which requires any donation over $1,000 to be reported, show other big donations since last week: $50,000 from IGT Operations in Reno, $225,000 from the New Jersey-based Carpenters Fund, $50,000 from the Oneida Indian Nation, another $250,000 from Yonkers and another $125,000 from American Racing & Entertainment.]
Anti-casino groups say they expect to spend next to nothing in a campaign that relies on grass roots and media outreach.
The new filing by the pro-casino group does not include expenses associated with a television ad campaign that began last week in downstate media markets.
Cuomo’s plan on the Nov. 5 statewide ballot calls for the state to legalize up to seven commercial casinos on non-Indian lands. The facilities would be able to offer real slot machines and table games, such as poker, which are now limited to the state’s six Indian-run casinos.