Tracy, Tracey, same thing
We’ve all been there, accidentally hitting “reply all” or clicking “send” without realizing the wrong address was on the e-mail. Even the highest-paid professionals do it, as evidenced by the latest drama in the race to secure one of three downstate New York casino licenses.
According to a piece in The New York Times, Michael McKeon (not to be confused with Better Call Saul star Michael McKean), a lobbyist for New York Mets owner Steve Cohen, accidentally sent an e-mail to Tracey Edwards, Senior Vice President Corporate Social Responsibility Officer for Sands New York, rather than Hard Rock Asia CEO Edward Tracy. The January 5 e-mail also went to Cohen’s Chief of Staff Michael Sullivan and Sean Caffery, Senior VP of Business & Casino Development of Hard Rock, the company with which Cohen is partnering on an $8bn casino and entertainment complex bid by the Mets’ Citi Field.
talking to officials at Hofstra University
In the e-mail, McKeon was letting his colleagues know that he was talking to officials at Hofstra University, which has spoken out against a Las Vegas Sands proposal for a casino next to campus.
“I am checking with Hofstra to see if they will oppose this move,” McKeon wrote.
Sands proponents jumped on the error
And with that, the fireworks began. Within a week, Newsday, Long Island’s local newspaper, got a hold of the e-mail and reported on it. Hofstra University President Susan Poser told Newsday’s editorial board that she had not been in contact with McKeon or Cohen’s team.
“We have not communicated with, nor do we have any knowledge of anyone at Hofstra having any communication with, any of the proposed New York casino developers or their agents, aside from Las Vegas Sands, with whom President Poser had one meeting over a year ago,” added a Hofstra spokeswoman.
Nevertheless, Howard J. Kopel, the new Presiding Officer of the Nassau County Legislature, issued subpoenas to Poser on January 16, a few days after the Newsday piece. The next day, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman held a press conference to rail against what he saw as potential collusion. Both Kopel and Blakeman support a Sands casino on Long Island.
Fists clenched tight
Those like Kopel who are up in arms about the e-mail have questioned whether conversations between Cohen’s team and Hofstra would even be legal. Bennett Liebman, a government lawyer in residence at Albany Law School, told the Times that there likely isn’t be anything illegal about it, even if it is perceived as unethical.
The state prohibits collusion among competitors, but in this case, it is not two competitors allegedly talking to each other. It is a candidate for a casino license and a third party that could be directly affected by a competitor’s casino.
I don’t think it really is a valid legal argument”
“It’s a nice talking point, but I don’t think it really is a valid legal argument,” Liebman said.
There are three casino licenses available for downstate New York, though most insiders believe that MGM Empire City Casino and the Resorts World Casino, which only house electronic gaming machines, will get two of them. That leaves one extremely valuable license up for grabs. In addition to Cohen/Hard Rock and Sands, possible proposals include a Times Square casino backed by Jay-Z and a Bally’s property at the former Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point (now Bally’s Golf Links), among others.
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