In a Wall Street Journal article posted Wednesday, casino and racetrack owner Jeff Gural made it clear how he felt about New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Gural is one of the former contributors to Cuomo’s campaigns interviewed in The Journal article. The story looks at just how vulnerable the three-term Democrat may be as he gears up for re-election next year. The keyword in that previous sentence is former, as the owner of Tioga Downs said he’s done because of reports of Cuomo sexually harassing several women and the way the state is proceeding with mobile sports betting.
He’s smart, but he’s a bully and his tactics are a disgrace,” Gural said. “And people should know how he runs the state.”
Cuomo is currently under investigation for the sexual harassment claims, which include accusations from current and former staffers, as well as women outside of his administration. Those accounts led to several prominent New York Democrats calling for his resignation.
But that’s just one of the inquiries that have popped up in the last year. Federal authorities are looking into how his office handled nursing home policies and data during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been questions about the use of state personnel and resources for a book he wrote about managing the pandemic. He received $5 million for the book.
In addition, state lawmakers are also reviewing those and other issues as part of their own investigation that could lead to his impeachment.
Cuomo Losing Money and Support
According to records from the New York State Board of Elections, Gural has made 21 contributions to Cuomo campaigns totaling $212,000 dating back to 2002. His last recorded contribution to Cuomo was made on Jan. 5, weeks before many of the women came forward with their harassment allegations against the governor.
Gural is not the only donor who is no longer backing Cuomo. The Journal reported the embattled incumbent got $2.3 million for the first half of the year. That represents the second smallest report he’s made as governor.
The Journal notes he still has more than $18 million in his campaign war chest. However, he’ll likely need all of that and more if he ends up seeking a fourth term next year. That’s because he’s not just losing big-money donors. He’s also losing support from voters.
In an April 2020 Siena poll, 77 percent of New York voters had a favorable view of the governor. By last month, as the scandals and investigations continued taking their toll, just 45 percent favored him, compared to 47 percent who did not.
Even worse, just 35 percent said they would vote to re-elect Cuomo. Only 33 percent even want him to run next year.
That political instability has also made its way to the trading markets. At PredictIt, traders are certain Cuomo won’t be impeached or resign by Sept 1. And with yes shares trading at 88 cents, the market sees him still in office on Dec. 31.
But traders are less certain of him even being the Democratic gubernatorial candidate next year. Cuomo still leads that market, but his shares on Wednesday afternoon were only trading at 40 cents. Shares for New York Attorney General Letitia James were at 33 cents.
NY Casinos Lose Out in Mobile Sports Betting Plan
The article doesn’t detail Gural’s dislike of the state’s plan for mobile sports betting. However, as a casino owner, he clearly stood to benefit more from an online skin proposal lawmakers had pursued for years. That would have enabled Tioga Downs to work with FanDuel, its retail sports betting partner and one of the largest mobile operators in the US. The casino likely would have been able to partner with one or two more betting apps as well.
Instead, under the agreement lawmakers and Cuomo reached in the budget, mobile operators will apply directly to the state for licenses through a rather complex solicitation process that launched earlier this month. The governor likened this approach to the way the state contracts with lottery operators. He also believes that will help the state eventually generate $500 million in revenue annually.
“We’ll contract with them, and we’ll make the money,” Cuomo said during an April 5 press conference. “We don’t need the casinos as a middleman.”
Under the state’s plan, Tioga Downs and the other three commercially licensed upstate casinos will receive $5 million annual payments to host online servers. The casinos will get the money even if they do not host an online server.
Gural also shared with The Journal how the administration has treated the state’s racing industry. A decade ago, as some racing leaders sought to bring full-fledged commercial casinos to New York, Gural said Cuomo and his staff used intimidating tactics to threaten the tracks’ licenses. That led to them donating $2 million to a pro-Cuomo campaign fund.
On Twitter Wednesday morning, Rich Azzopardi, Cuomo’s communications director and senior advisor, responded to a tweet promoting the article by saying Gural, who is the CEO and managing partner for the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey, had an ax to grind.
“Not for nothing, but cited in this piece (is)… a pissed-off casino owner with more interests in New Jersey who is mad our sports betting legislation benefits NYers, not him,” Cuomo’s spokesman said.
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