Incoming New York Governor Kathy Hochul Close Ties to Gaming Industry

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New York Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul is set to take over as governor following the resignation of Andrew Cuomo. She will assume office on August 24. Hochul will soon run almost all state-operated agencies, including the New York State Gaming Commission.

When Governor Hochul becomes the state’s top government representative and New York’s firm female governor, she states her husband, William Bill Hochul, will hold on to his job at Delaware North. Delaware is one of the biggest gaming and hospitality companies in the United States.

William Hochul is a state attorney who, in 2016, was hired by Delaware as its general counsel and senior vice president. The privately run firm, owned by New York’s dominant Jacobs family, runs gaming in Arkansas, Illinois, Arizona, Florida, Ohio, West Virginia, and its home state.

In a statement, Delaware North stated that Mrs. Hochul’s succession to the governor’s office has no impact on Mr. Hochul’s role within the company. But restrictions are being put in place.

The company said:

“Delaware North is implementing additional restrictions on Mr. Hochul’s interaction with the company’s business activities in the New York state to avoid even the governor’s private interests deriving from Mr. Hochul’s employment by Delaware North.”

Delaware North further added:

“Effective immediately, Mr. Hochul will be precluded from the involvement in matters relating to business conducted by Delaware North in the New York state. In which a New York state government official, department or agency is, or potentially could be, engaged.”

Complicated situation

Hochul is being given much more power in rising from deputy governor to governor. Once she assumes office, she will run the New York State Gaming Commission. Currently, the commission is evaluating applications from gaming companies interested in running gambling in the state.

Delaware owns two gaming properties upstate, Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack and Hamburg Gaming at Buffalo Raceway. Both provide visitors with video lottery terminals (VLTs). In addition, Delaware North offers hospitality services at various state-operated facilities, such as rest stops on the New York State Thruway, Niagara Falls State Park, and the two upstate airports.

The New York State Comptroller’s Office states that, in total, Delaware North has over $49.6 million in open contracts with the state.

Advocates suggest change

With significant business at risk and Mr. Hochul ready to become New York’s first nobleman, some call for him to resign from his Delaware North position.

A chief research analyst at the Public Accountability Initiative, Robert Galbraith, said:

“The conflict of interest exists as long as Bill Hochul is getting paid from this company with such extensive business before the state.”

Gailbraith then added:

“The decision to carry this blatant conflict of interest into the Governor’s office is an ignominious start from Kathy Hochul’s.”

But Lt. Governor Hochul says the treats are nothing new. Kathy Hochul stated of her husband’s time as a state attorney. She said:

“People should realize that Bill has been a public servant for 30 years. And throughout our 37 years of married life, we have both had careers, and we have created a solid internal ethics among ourselves about not being involved or discussing each other’s professional work.”

Not enough, says the political custodian and Reinvent Albany’s executive director, John Kaehny. John mainly took issues with New York preparing to issue chosen gambling licenses, and Delaware North is one of the state’s most prominent political solicit spenders.

Speaking with Gothamist, Kaehny said:

“It is billions of dollars in sports betting activity that New York State officials have to approve. Mr. Hochul is actively in a role where he and his company are lobbying the New York State for permission to do more wagering business.”