Hard Rock’s Russia Connections Jeopardize Casino License in New York City

The New York Post reported, however, that sources close to the bidding process say that the company’s business ties to Russia have complicated the bid. 

Yale Report Card Slams Hard Rock for Ignoring Calls to Cease Russia Operations

Governor Kathy Hochul issued an executive order last year prohibiting any state entity from contracting with a company doing business in Russia due to President Vladimir Putin’s military invasion of Ukraine. The order aims to prevent New York’s activities from supporting Russia’s unjustified war and the bet646 killing of innocent Ukrainians.

Hard Rock has had two franchise restaurants in Russia, one in Moscow and the other in St. Petersburg. However, a company spokesman said that the issue is now irrelevant since they do not own or operate any property in Russia. The independently owned Hard Rock Cafe in Moscow has already closed, and the operator of the Hard Rock Cafe in St. Petersburg agreed to close operations.

Despite this, Yale University’s School of Management gave Hard Rock an “F” grade for continuing to do business in Russia. The report card identified firms that have severed business ties with Russia and exposed other firms still doing business there. The report card identified Hard Rock as one of the 238 companies that persisted in conducting business as usual in Russia, despite demands to reduce or cease their activities there.

Furthermore, Hard Rock has been politically active, contributing $50,000 to Hochul’s re-election campaign and holding a fundraiser for her. The company also spent $110,000 lobbying state lawmakers on casino gaming before the executive order signing and at least $120,000 afterwards.

No Date Set for Casino Bid Despite Interest from Hard Rock and Others

Governor Hochul’s spokesperson said that affected state entities must obtain a certification from bidders as part of a solicitation for a new contract or extension of an existing contract that the business has no dealings with the Russian government, including those on the Federal sanctions list. 

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Additionally, the state Gaming Commission’s Brad Maione said that no date has been set yet for a casino bid, and potential bidders, including Hard Rock, have yet to submit formal proposals.

Other gaming operators are also vying for one of three downstate casino licenses. Bally’s is proposing a casino on the Trump Organization’s public golf course at Ferry Point in The Bronx. The owners of the existing slots parlors at the Aqueduct race track in Ozone Park, Queens, and Yonkers race track, Genting/Resorts World, and MGM’s Empire City are expected to submit bids to expand their offerings to include table games.