Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York has appointed Marissa Shorenstein, the daughter of prominent gambling lobbyist Stuart Shorenstein, to the New York Gaming Commission. This move has sparked concerns about potential conflicts of interest within the gaming industry. Stuart Shorenstein has a history of lobbying for various gaming firms, including the Swedish internet gambling giant Evolution Malta, which is actively advocating for the legalization of online betting in New York. Critics argue that Marissa Shorenstein’s appointment raises red flags due to her father’s connections and potential influence in the regulatory process.
John Kaehny, the executive director of Reinvent Albany, a government accountability group, criticized the decision, stating that there were other boards and commissions to which Shorenstein could have been appointed. Government watchdogs emphasize the need for impartiality and transparency in regulatory bodies, particularly in the gaming industry. They are concerned that Shorenstein’s position may be compromised by her father’s connections, potentially undermining the integrity of the regulatory process.
The New York Gaming Commission defended Shorenstein’s appointment, stating that she is highly qualified and has a history of adhering to the highest ethical standards. The Commission asserted that Shorenstein has recused herself from cases involving her father and his lobbying firm. Additionally, it clarified that appointees, including Shorenstein, will not be making decisions on awarding casino licenses in the downstate region, leaving that task to an Independent Gaming Facility Location Board.
Despite the controversy surrounding Shorenstein’s appointment, Governor Kathy Hochul’s recently announced $233 billion FY 2025 Budget did not mention online gambling, casting doubt on its legalization this year. However, lawmakers may still debate the issue, with Senator Joseph Addabbo introducing a bill proposing the legalization of online lottery and iGaming activities, complete with a 30.5% tax on gross gaming revenue for operators.