Gambling companies and other casino interests have bet big on New York.
Since 2011, there have been $3.2 million in contributions from gaming interests to state political candidates or their political committees.
These high rollers have gotten a pretty good reward. They have hit the jackpot," said Susan Lerner, Common Cause executive director.
The money gambling companies – ranging from the consortium of racino operators known as the New York Gaming Association to the Seneca Nation of Indians – is all the more important as voters next month consider a constitutional amendment that would expand casinos to include commercial gaming operators.
"What we need to have is a system of comprehensive campaign finance reform, we need to lower limits," said Lerner.
The money has flowed in from gaming companies to the coffers of campaigns. Assembly Democrats have received $414,750. Senate Republicans, $403,750. Governor Andrew Cuomo has netted $361,500.
Cuomo says he'll work to see the casino referendum pass.
"I support the referendum, I'll be working to pass the referendum and then it'll be up to the voters to decide whether or not they want it passed," said Gov. Cuomo, D-New York on Sept. 23.
Meanwhile, a ballot referendum committee made up of business interests, private sector unions and elected officials has formed. It's called New York Jobs Now, and it can raised unlimited amounts of cash to support the referendum.
Good-government advocates are also disturbed by the language of the ballot referendum, which touts the school aid and job creation of the casino expansion.
"This ballot language basically put a thumb on the scale and tilted the voter to be predisposed towards the gambling referendum," Lerner said.
An analysis by the governor's budget office determined New York would receive an extra $430 million in annual revenue – money that could go to schools and pay down property taxes – if the amendment is approved.