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Hard Rock, eyeing casino license, put chips behind Hochul


An executive from Seminole Hard Rock casino reportedly sent a brazen “pay to play” email solicitation urging associates to place their chips behind Kathy Hochul’s campaign to be elected governor — because the firm makes an aggressive push to win a license to operate a gambling parlor in Latest York City.

“Team, as we prepare for the ultimate stretch of our process for the third Latest York City casino license, Seminole Hard Rock ask that you think about the attached reception event and donation. … Hoping we will count in your support for Governor Kathy Hochul and Glad Father’s Day!” said the recent email from the Hard Rock honcho, in accordance with the gaming blog playny.com.

Explicitly asking for donations in exchange for a particular government motion may very well be construed as a quid pro quo, or bribery in law enforcement parlance, if consummated.

By explicitly requesting donations in exchange for a certain government motion, Seminole Hard Rock Casino’s actions may be construed as quid pro quo. Getty Images

“They’re throwing plenty of money around and clearly attempting to get Hochul’s attention,” a casino industry source said of Hard Rock.

One government watchdog group said the blatant email attributed to a rep from the casino operator shows that “Latest York government is on the market.”

“The perception is Gov. Hochul put out an indication that that claims, `Latest York is on the market,’” said John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany. “It’s pay to play. That’s the best way donors view it and the Hochul campaign is cashing in on that perception.

On June 20, Hard Rock hosted a fundraising event for Gov. Kathy Hochul's campaign at the new Hard Rock Hotel in New York City. On June 20, Hard Rock hosted a fundraising event for Gov. Kathy Hochul’s campaign at the brand new Hard Rock Hotel in Latest York City. AFP via Getty Images

“The e-mail reads like a quid pro quo. They’re expecting to get something in return for his or her contributions,” added Kaehny.

Hard Rock, in an announcement to The Post Tuesday, said it has launched an investigation into what it claims was an unauthorized email while acknowledging it hosted an enormous fundraising bash for Hochul on June 20 at its recent hotel in Times Square.

“Hard Rock hosted a fundraising event for Gov. Hochul on June twentieth at the brand new Hard Rock Hotel in Latest York City. Participants were invited to that event via invitation that was approved by our compliance attorneys and sent by the President of Hard Rock Support Services with no reference to a casino or casino licensing process in Latest York,” the corporate said.

Steve CohenLatest York Mets owner Steve Cohen is claimed to be potentially partnering with Seminole Hard Rock for a casino project next to Citi Field. Charles Wenzelberg

Eric AdamsSeminole Hard Rock can also be in search of support from Mayor Eric Adams, lobbying records show. Matthew McDermott

“With regard to the alleged other e-mail, Hard Rock International takes these allegations very seriously and immediately initiated an internal investigation to find out whether anyone in our organization violated company policies related to political contributions.”

Donors connected to Hard Rock have given Hochul greater than $100,000 in donations this election cycle, in accordance with a NY Times recent evaluation of Hochul’s $34 million in campaign donations

Seminole Hard Rock chairman Jim Allen gave $25,000 to Hochul on June 20 — the day of the fundraiser and the date listed in the e-mail.

Other donors were asked to kick in $25,000 to be a co-chairs for the Hochul campaign event.

Seminole Hard Rock is claimed to be a contender for a possible partnership with Latest York Mets owner Steve Cohen for a casino project next to Citi Field in Willets Point.

Lobbying records also show that Seminole Hard Rock is in search of support from Mayor Eric Adams. 

The firm’s reps recently met with Frank Carone, the mayor’s chief of staff, lobbying records show.

Cohen, the Mets owner and hedge fund mogul, donated $1.5 million last 12 months to a brilliant PAC that backed Adams’s successful campaign for City Hall.

The state later this 12 months will open a competitive bidding process to award licenses for up to 3 casinos within the downstate region that may very well be sited within the the Big Apple and /or the encompassing suburbs.

Two existing slots parlors, Genting’s Resorts World at Aqueduct race track and MGM’s Empire City at Yonkers Raceway, are also vying for a license to supply table games.

The state is predicted to receive $500 million from casino operators per license.

The Hochul campaign declined comment.

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