A political consultant with close ties to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) is lobbying for Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct Race Track — which faces potentially diminished revenue if a video gambling parlor opens less than 10 miles away at Belmont Park in Elmont.
State records show Genting New York LLC, which operates the slots parlor at Aqueduct, hired Patrick B. Jenkins & Associates of Queens on Oct. 27 on a $20,000-per-month retainer to lobby the governor, the state Senate and Assembly on “gaming issues.”
Heastie came out against Nassau Regional Off-Track Betting Corps’ proposed Belmont casino earlier this month, citing opposition by Assemb. Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont).
OTB wants to build a 100,000-square-foot VLT parlor in Belmont’s western grandstand at a cost of about $75 million. The State Legislature must approve the project because it would be built on state land.
Jenkins was Heastie’s former roommate at Stony Brook University and later worked for the assemblyman as a special assistant before starting his own lobbying firm in 2010.
Heastie’s Bronx Democratic County Committee also pays Jenkins $4,000 per month as a political consultant. In total, the committee has paid Jenkins $96,000 since October 2012, according to State Board of Elections records.
Assembly spokesman Michael Whyland said Heastie’s opposition to the Belmont casino is “reflective of his conversations with the local member. He has not consulted with Patrick” on Belmont.
Michael Wilton, executive director of the New York Gaming Association, an Albany-based lobbying group representing the state’s nine VLT parlors, has said putting slots at Belmont will “cannibalize gambling dollars and threaten existing jobs,” including at Resorts World.
Pat Nicolosi, an Elmont civic leader who supports the Belmont casino, said Heastie should abstain from any votes involving OTB’s plan.
“It’s very questionable,” Nicolosi said of the lobbying arrangement with Jenkins.
Jenkins and a Resorts World spokesman did not respond to requests for comment on the lobbying arrangement.
An OTB spokesman declined to comment.
As it awaits state approvals, OTB plans to erect a temporary gambling hall on eight acres north of Hempstead Turnpike. The facility, which needs approval from the state Gaming Commission and the Office of General Services, would cost $10 million, take four to six months to build, and could operate for up to 18 months.
Resorts World, the largest video lottery terminal parlor in New York with 5,000 machines, brought in $816 million in gambling revenue from April 2014 through March 2015, according to New York State Gambling Commission data.
Jenkins also lobbies for the Trial Lawyers Association, Uber and FanDuel, the daily fantasy sports betting site, according to state lobbying records.