Gov. Kathy Hochul weighs bill to let criminals work in New York casinos

New York Post
Gov. Kathy Hochul weighs bill to let criminals work in New York casinos
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Gov. Kathy Hochul has a piece of legislation sitting on her desk that would allow casino operators to hire a diverse range of convicted felons — from drug peddlers to killers.

The measure was sent on Tuesday to the governor for her signature or veto after passing the state Senate and Assembly by big bipartisan margins in June.

Current law bars licensed casino operators from hiring anyone convicted of any felony.

Critics blasted the bill as an another example of a Democrats’ bleeding heart, criminal friendly proposal run amok.

“That’s just wrong. This is another example of the New York State Legislature imposing a liberal policy in an area they shouldn’t touch,” said state Conservative Party chairman Gerald Kassar.

But lawmakers said casino operators — including Rush Street Rivers Casino in Schenectady — have complained they’re having difficulty hiring workers for food service and cleaning positions.

“We’re trying to open up employment opportunities at the casinos. People deserve a second chance. They shouldn’t be denied employment because they got a drug felony conviction,” said Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-Mount Vernon), who chairs the committee that oversees casinos.

Pretlow sponsored the bill along with state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Queens), who chairs the state Senate gaming committee.

The legislation says disqualifications will still remain in place for applicants seeking a casino license or job who have a prior felony conviction involving public integrity, embezzlement, theft, or fraud or perjury.

The gaming commission also will still have the discretion to deny a license after reviewing an applicant’s history.

Rush Street Gaming, when asked by The Post whether they championed the criminal hiring proposal, said, “Although Rush Street Gaming did not initiate this legislation, we are not opposed to it.

“We support the legislature’s commitment to second chances and strengthening of the New York workforce. The bill still leaves regulatory discretion to the NYS Gaming Commission to deny or issue a gaming license,” their statement said.

Hochul’s office said the governor is reviewing the legislation.

Kassar, the Conservative Party leader, said there are plenty of citizens without criminal records who can be hired at casinos and claimed the legislation was an “excuse” to hire convicts, and wondered if it was geared to help one wired individual.

The legislation comes as the state next year moves to approve up to three new casino licenses in the downstate area, with operators jockeying to open a gaming mecca in Times Square, Hudson Yards,  Willets Point near the Mets’ Citi Field ballpark or in Coney Island.

The two racetrack slot parlors — Genting’s Resorts World at Aqueduct and MGM Yonkers Empire City — are also expected to apply for full casino licenses to offer table games.