Governor Kathy Hochul’s Gaming Commission Appointment Raises Conflict of Interest Worries

Concerns over potential conflicts of interest within the regulating body have been raised by New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s recent nomination of Marissa Shorenstein, daughter of well-known gaming lobbyist Stuart Shorenstein, to the New York Gaming Commission.

Experienced lobbyist Stuart Shorenstein has ties to many gaming companies, notably Evolution Malta, and his recent attempts to promote online gambling legislation in New York have drawn criticism. The addition of Marissa Shorenstein to the Gaming Commission has complicated matters and led some to ask if her position there was suitable.

Concerns Voiced by Watchdogs

Government accountability group Reinvent Albany, led by Executive Director John Kaehny, expressed skepticism over the decision to appoint Marissa Shorenstein to a position directly associated with her father’s lobbying activities. Kaehny highlighted the availability of alternative boards and commissions where Shorenstein could have been appointed, emphasizing the need for impartiality and transparency.

Watchdogs stress the importance of maintaining integrity in regulatory bodies, particularly when overseeing the gaming industry. The concern is that Shorenstein’s position might be susceptible to influence from her father’s connections, potentially compromising the impartiality of regulatory decisions.

A representative for the New York Gaming Commission defended the appointment, despite the fact that neither Marissa Shorenstein nor the governor’s office made any direct remarks. Shorenstein provides decades of leadership experience and upholds the highest ethical standards, according to Deputy Executive Director Lee Park. Strong standards for recusal have been put in place, according to the commission, and Shorenstein has already withdrawn from cases involving her father and his lobbying business.

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The New York Gaming Commission made it clear that nominees—including Shorenstein—will not be participating in choices on the distribution of casino licenses in the downstate. An Independent Gaming Facility Location Board will be given this duty. The commission wants to maintain moral principles and openness in its regulatory procedures in spite of the issue.

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