New York’s Gov. Kathy Hochul has an important decision on her hands, as this week, she received legislation to approve or reject. The bill in question would allow for former convicted criminals to be hired at the state’s casinos. She received the bill on Tuesday for a review, after it was previously passed at the state Senate and Assembly in June.
Currently, state laws forbid licensed casino operators from recruiting and hiring anyone who has been convicted of any kind of felony. As expected, some critics were not the biggest fans of the proposed legislation and even labelled it as another example of the Democrats’ criminal-friendly politics. However, some casinos in the state welcome the bill.
Believing in Second Chances
Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-Mount Vernon) commented that lawmakers are trying to provide more employment positions at casinos and that everyone deserves a second chance. Mr. Pretlow says people should not be denied employment because of their criminal past. The assemblyman and state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Queens) both sponsored the bill.
According to the proposed legislation, disqualification will still remain in place for applicants who are interested in a casino license or job who have a prior felony conviction involving public integrity, embezzlement, theft, fraud or perjury. Also, the New York State Gaming Commission will still have the discretion to deny a license after reviewing an applicant’s records.
Rush Street Gaming, which operates Rivers Casino Resort Schenectady said that it did not come up with the bill, it is not against it. In its statement, the company said it support’s the legislature’s commitment to second chances and the enhancement of the local workforce. And ultimately, the bill leaves the regulatory discretion to the commission to deny or issue a gaming license.
Gov. Hochul’s office commented that the governor is currently reviewing the bill. Meanwhile, Conservative Party chairman Gerald Kassar stated that there are plenty of people that do not have criminal records who can be hired by casinos, and claimed that the legislation was an excuse to recruit convicts and believes this an area that the state should not entertain.
The bill which would allow the hiring of ex-convicts comes in the process of the state issuing up to three commercial casino licenses in the downstate region. Currently, there are plenty of candidates for the spots. For instance, prominent real estate developer Stefan Soloviev has already expressed interest in bidding for a casino just south of the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, NY.
He will face competition from SL Green Realty Corporation and Caesars Entertainment who have teamed up with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation to launch a premium casino resort in Times Square. However, two of the most likely candidates remain Genting Americas’ Resorts World and MGM Yonkers Empire City who already received plenty of support on the matter.
Source: Campanile, Carl; Williams, Zach “Gov. Kathy Hochul weighs bill to let criminals work in New York casinos” New York Post, December 7, 2022