The 2019-2020 New York State budget calls for $175.5 billion in spending. During budget season in Albany, powerful special interests send lobbyists to Albany in an effort to obtain a chunk of that funding. One such special interest group is the gambling industry.
Last week, the Times Union reported that a representative of Rivers Casino in Schenectady has visited Albany to ask for a lower tax rate on that casino’s slot machines. The Times Union further reported that while Assembly Democratic leadership did not look with favor on this proposal, there was discussion about giving the casino “a multi-million dollar tax break on advertising expenditures” instead. On top of this recent lobbying effort, Rivers Casino routinely spends $42,500 per month to pay three different lobbying firms to represent its interests at the Capitol.
While Rivers Casino reportedly pays the highest slot machine tax of any of New York’s four upstate casinos, Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee Chair Gary Pretlow (D-Mount Vernon) stated that the casino had agreed to the high tax rate to enhance their bid during the license application process.
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms maintains that no gambling casino is entitled to sweetheart deals at the expense of New York taxpayers.