Andrew Cuomo Not In “Giving Tuesday” Mood, Vetoes Charitable Gaming Bill

Posted on: November 29, 2016, 10:21h. 

Last updated on: November 29, 2016, 12:07h.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) had a severe case of the Mondays this week. Yesterday, the Democrat in his second term vetoed 72 bills passed by the State Legislature that dealt with everything from public transit improvement and natural disaster readiness to charitable gambling.

Andrew Cuomo charitable gaming veto
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had no qualms approving daily fantasy sports online contests, but is vetoing a bill that would have allowed charitable organizations to sell raffle tickets on the internet. (Image: Reuters)

One of his legislative victims was the Charitable Gaming Act of 2016. Introduced by Assemblyman Robin Schimminger (D-District 140) and cosponsored by gaming expansion and internet poker proponent Gary Pretlow (D-District 89), the legislation was authored to allow charitable organizations to sell raffle tickets online.

Non-profits such as veterans groups and fire departments that are licensed for charitable games of chance by the New York Gaming Commission have seen wagers diminish in recent years. The Charitable Gaming Act would have allowed such groups to sell raffle tickets for their games over the internet and through mobile applications, as well as accept debit and credit cards.

“As structured, the bill runs afoul of the New York State Constitution,” Cuomo wrote in his memo veto. “This would allow charitable raffles to veer into the realm of commercialized activity that the Constitution specifically directs the Legislature to forbid.”

“However, I recognize the need to modernize charitable gaming laws,” Cuomo conceded. “I am therefore directing the New York State Gaming Commission to work with the bill’s sponsors and interested stakeholders to recommend appropriate changes.”

DFS Yes, Charity Veto

Cuomo’s timing isn’t the best as today is “Giving Tuesday,” a philanthropic date that raises millions for charitable endeavors. His veto is also raising eyebrows considering the governor signed a daily fantasy sports (DFS) bill into law in August.

Cuomo cites the New York Constitution’s decree that charitable gaming be limited to municipalities where it is approved, and that online sales would theoretically make it a statewide raffle. Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R-District 139), another cosponsor of the package, says Cuomo hasn’t made a proper argument in vetoing the bill.

“The governor has turned his back on the fire departments, non-profits, the churches,” Hawley told The Daily News, a newspaper covering Genesee, Wyoming, and Orleans counties. “I’ve talked . . . about an override, but first we’ll work to remedy it into something acceptable to the governor.”

Quid Pro Cuomo

As land-based casino expansion continues throughout the Empire State and DFS contests are now fully permitted online, New Yorkers are never far from a betting opportunity. That is thought to be hampering small games of chance revenues at benevolent groups in rural upstate towns.

The Charitable Gaming Act states that the legislation would “afford these worthwhile charitable organizations the ability to reach their intended fundraising goals, which in turn will enhance their capability to support vital programs and services within the community.”

But the state doesn’t reap the financial reward from charitable gaming that it does from tribal gaming and daily fantasy contests. That’s one potential reason why Cuomo might have been more enthused about passing a DFS bill, which requires operators to pay 15.5 percent of their gross gaming revenues to the state, over a charitable internet raffle expansion.