In “Behind an Army of Lobbyists, an Instant Force in Gambling,” the New York Times details the efforts of a KT Lim, a Malaysian billionaire, who is trying to strong-arm his way into the American gambling market. Specifically, his company, Genting Berhad, is working over the political processes in New York and Florida.
In Florida: “The company popped up in Miami last May, announcing it would build the largest casino in the world on Biscayne Bay with 5,200 hotel rooms, a convention center, 50 restaurants, luxury shops and a rooftop lagoon.”
“The planned casino is not even legal yet, but Genting has spent more than $400 million on land, joined local civic associations, contributed $628,320 to Republicans and Democrats and hired two dozen lobbyists and public relations firms.” Among Genting’s hires are former powerful lawmakers and public relations firms run by friends of those currently holding office. [Sound familiar?]
In New York: Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo “made Genting’s plans for a $4 billion expansion at Aqueduct a central element of his economic development strategy. The expansion would include the country’s largest convention center, three hotels with a total of 3,000 rooms, an entertainment center and room for additional electronic slot machines and table games.” New York’s poor public disclosure laws do not provide for any accounting of the money that Genting is spending in that state. One can only speculate…
A quick check of Minnesota’s Campaign Finance Board lobbyist listings shows that no one has registered to lobby for Genting in Minnesota. But a reminder: Public relations and public affairs firms are not required to register under Minnesota law. However, I’ve heard nothing on the street that would indicate Genting is currently looking here. Maybe it’s a question of time.
Finally, another question or two. What out-of-state gambling interests stand to benefit under the various forms of gambling expansion on Minnesota’s public policy table? Which Minnesotans stand to benefit from the hundreds of millions spent by the out-of-state interests?