MGM Resorts International, the Las Vegas-based casino giant, inked a $15,000-a-month contract with Kasirer Consulting on March 28th to lobby for its “business opportunities” in New York, two weeks after the state Legislature took a first step toward legalizing full-fledged casinos.
Suri Kasirer, the president of Kasirer Consulting, confirmed that MGM was looking into its opportunities in New York with the possible legalization of commercial casinos on the horizon.
There are strong indications the company is interested in New York City as a possible casino site. It listed the New York City Council and the mayor as entities it expects to lobby in its lobbying registration, along with the governor, the state Senate and the Assembly.
Earlier this year, an MGM spokesman expressed initial interest in locating a casino in Manhattan, though Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has made it clear he does not want to allow a casino in the borough.
Kasirer declined to say where the company would be interested in operating a casino. MGM did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
“I think it’s prelimary to make that determination of what sites they would be looking for, but I think they’re looking at what are the opportunities and how they might be able to work with the state on this,” Kasirer said.
Kasirer Consulting is only the latest lobbyist to sign on with either a major casino company, one of the nine racetrack casinos or the operators of the state’s five Native American casinos.
MGM joins Genting and Boyd Gaming as the major casino companies that have hired lobbyists in the state, positioning themselves for a shot at one of the seven casinos that would be up for grabs if a constitutional amendment is approved.
MGM had submitted a proposal in the past to build a casino at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, but the rights eventually were awarded to Genting, which opened its popular Resorts World Casino at the site last fall.
Before casino gambling is allowed to move forward, the Legislature must approve the resolution again next year and send it to voters in a public referendum.
Alan Feldman, a spokesman for MGM, said Manhattan no longer seems like a politically viable location for a casino but that the rest of New York City is still a fascinating opportunity given its huge population, its tourism and its transportation networks.
“Depending on how this unfolds, there may be an opportunity and there may not be,” Feldman said. “That has a lot to do with what’s politically viable.”
There has been some concern among casino operators about Genting’s foothold in New York City and its plans to build a massive convention center next to its casino in Queens, a proposal Gov. Andrew Cuomo has praised. Citing the need to obtaing funding for the convention center, Genting is seeking some sort of exclusivity agreement that could keep other casinos out of the city.
“Obviously, if we were in Genting’s shoes, we would love to have New Yorkto ourselves,” Feldman said. “But I think that the powers that be, both in the city and the state, realize that in addition to what Genting is talking about, there’s still potential to do more. There are many other opportunities that the city and state would have, beyond just a convention center in Queens.”
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