As part of its efforts to expand casino gaming closer to New York City, a unit of Genting Malaysia was among New York’s biggest spenders on political lobbying.
Last year, Genting New York spent $1.22 million on lobbyists, the sixth-highest tally among all groups, according to the recently released New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics 2020 Annual Report. Genting was the only gaming company among the top 10 spenders on lobbying last year in the fourth-largest state.
The list of the top 10 highest-spending lobbying entities included traditionally active industries and interests related to business, real estate, health care, and education, but with some notable changes as to the entities within those industries that were in the Top 10,” according to the report.
Genting owns Resorts World New York City (RWNY) in Queens, as well as Resorts World Catskills in the northern part of the state.
It’s believed that the bulk of Genting’s lobbying expenditures in the state were directed toward an effort to alter the timeline for converting downstate gaming venues – of which Resorts World New York City is one – to traditional casinos.
In 2013, New York voters signed off on seven commercial casinos across the state, with four eventually located in the upstate area. Those licenses were granted in 2016 with a seven-year exclusivity period, preventing the other three permits from being approved in the New York City area. The law doesn’t forbid gaming properties but it does bar those venues offering table games and sports wagering until 2023.
Both Genting and MGM are seeking to expedite the process rather than wait another two years, and polls show New Yorkers favor the expansion of those venues to traditional casinos, particularly with the state grappling with budget issues in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The ethics report indicates MGM spent $146,250 on New York lobbying last year. It was published less than three weeks after Genting launched Resorts World Las Vegas. It was also amid speculation that the Malaysian company is mulling bringing its US assets, including the New York assets, under one umbrella for the purposes of a public equity listing in this country.
Likely related to efforts to land a New York City casino license, Las Vegas Sands is listed as a lobbying spender in the ethics report. However, Bally’s and Wynn Resorts — the other operators believed to be vying for the final license in that area — aren’t found in the publication.
FanDuel and DraftKings, the two largest online sportsbook operators in the US, spent almost $370,000 combined on New York lobbying efforts last year, according to the ethics data. Those expenditures likely stem from the state approving mobile sports wagering and the still-ongoing debate related to that issue.