George Pataki: Just Another Gambling Hypocrite

George Pataki, Sheldon Adelson’s hired gun and co-chair of his Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, now says gambling is addictive and the push for legalized internet gambling is a “terrible idea”. He also claims the FBI believes terrorists are using online gambling to get money.

In an embarrassing interview on Bloomberg, Pataki worries about gamblers losing their money. “In Colorado, suppose you have a couple of joints in the afternoon, go on the internet and suddenly there goes your mortgage payments because you just blew it on a poker game.

“I can see kids sitting around in the dorm room, 12:00 at night, getting loaded on beers, they have maybe $500 left for the rest of the semester, putting all on some hand and losing it. It’s a losing proposition. You don’t make money long-term from gambling. That’s why casinos make so much money. I don’t think online gambling from a moral standpoint, from a practical standpoint, or from a law enforcement standpoint makes any sense.”

The tune is quite different from when Pataki was governor of New York in the late 1990s. Pataki was arguably New York’s most pro-gambling governor in its history, quite a feat when one considers the sordid history of New York. Pataki pushed the Keno-style Quick Draw video lottery game through the Legislature in his first year of office in 1995, citing the need for additional revenues.

He also was the major player behind a proposed amendment to the State Constitution to allow non-Indian casinos to open in the state, primarily in resort areas like the Catskills. He pushed New York to join the Mega Millions national lottery consortium, finally achieving success in 2002. He strongly promoted gambling expansion by the Senecas and Mohawks. He also tried to allow video lottery terminals at racetracks.

“There isn’t any kind of gambling he doesn’t seem to think is right,” said State Senator Frank Padavan in 2001. “No other governor has done it to the same degree. And he’s the one pushing it.”

He’s not pushing it now, thanks to Adelson’s generous checkbook.