New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s appointment of Marissa Shorenstein, the daughter of influential gambling lobbyist Stuart Shorenstein, to the New York Gaming Commission has raised concerns over potential conflicts of interest. Marissa’s father, Stuart, is an advisor to numerous gaming firms, including Evolution Malta, which is pushing for online betting legalization in New York.
Appointment Draws Criticism for Potential Conflict
The appointment has drawn criticism for the potential conflict it presents, given Stuart Shorenstein’s active role in the gaming industry. John Kaehny, executive director of the government accountability group Reinvent Albany, called the decision “absurd” and highlighted the governor’s option to appoint Shorenstein to a less controversial board. This appointment raises questions about impartiality and transparency in regulatory processes involving the gaming industry, with concerns that Shorenstein’s ties might influence decision-making.
Gaming Commission Defends Shorenstein’s Appointment
In response to the controversy, a spokesperson for the New York Gaming Commission, Lee Park, defended Marissa Shorenstein’s qualifications and ethical standards. The commission assured that robust recusal policies are in place, noting that Shorenstein has already recused herself from matters involving her father’s firm. The commission also clarified that appointees like Shorenstein would not participate in decisions about awarding downstate casino licenses, which will be handled by an Independent Gaming Facility Location Board.
Governor Hochul’s recent budget announcement did not include online gambling, casting uncertainty over its legalization this year. However, legislative efforts, such as Sen. Joseph Addabbo’s Senate Bill 8185, continue to push for the legalization of online lottery and iGaming activities, with proposed taxes on operators’ gross gaming revenue.
The appointment of Marissa Shorenstein to the New York Gaming Commission, given her father’s role as a gambling lobbyist, has sparked debate about potential conflicts of interest, highlighting the need for ethical standards and transparency in gaming industry regulation. The commission’s response and recusal procedures seek to address these concerns, as New York continues to navigate the evolving landscape of online gambling legislation.