By Tom Precious
ALBANY -- Casino giant Caesars Entertainment has given a last-minute, $100,000 donation to a group pushing to get passage of the casino expansion proposition on the statewide ballot tomorrow.
It represents the first major flow of money from Las Vegas to help NY Jobs Now, the pro-casino group funded by gambling and union interests, though it is run out of the offices of the Business Council of New York State.
The group has raised about $3.75 million in the last four weeks, according to disclosure reports it has filed with the state elections board. Its money has come from a Malaysian-headquartered gambling company, owners of New York racetrack-based casinos hoping to get licenses to permit real slots and table games, and unions whose members would be hired for temporary construction or permanent casino resort jobs.
Insiders last week speculated that the major Las Vegas casino companies were sitting on the sidelines because most are only interested in the big casino prize: New York City. And placement of casinos there, if the referendum passes, is not supposed to happen for seven years.
Caesars, like the other big Las Vegas casino conglomerates, made its presence known during the gambling expansion's debate this past legislative session. It paid $15,500 per month to the politically wired Bolton St. Johns lobbying firm.
The $100,000 donation by Caesars was made Nov. 1 but did not show up on the election board's 24-hour reporting web site until this afternoon.