03/05/2014 12:06PM

State Senate approves Gearan as chairman of New York Gaming Commission

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Courtesy of Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Mark Gearan was confirmed as the new chairman of the New York Gaming Commission by the state Senate on Tuesday.

Mark Gearan, the president since 1999 of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y., was confirmed to be the new chairman of the New York Gaming Commission by the state Senate on Tuesday.

Gearan was nominated to the position in January by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat. He has no experience in either horse racing or gambling regulation, but deep ties to Democratic politics. Prior to being hired as president of the colleges, he held multiple titles in the administration of President Bill Clinton, including assistant to the president, director of communications, and deputy chief of staff.

The gambling commission regulates all gambling activity in New York, including horse racing and the state’s casinos. The commission’s most prominent task in the next year will be to determine which companies will receive licenses to operate four full-blown casinos in the upstate area, under a referendum passed last year supported by Cuomo.

The gambling commission will next meet on March 12, when Gearan is expected to announce appointees to the commission’s five-member Gambling Facility Location Board, according to officials.

“I am honored to take on this important role that will help shepherd much-needed economic development throughout New York state,” said Gearan, in a release from Cuomo’s office, using identical language to what appeared in the referendum asking voters to approve the additional casinos.