Employees Detail Harassment, Racism at New York Gambling Regulator’s Office

Grant Mitchell
Grant Mitchell
USA Legal Betting


  • An image of the KKK was allegedly hung in the office for weeks
  • A former employee said he was hired because others would be uncomfortable working with a Black man
  • A spokesperson said that all complaints regarding the workplace are fully investigated

Employees at the New York Gaming Commission (NYGC) have alleged accounts of sexual harassment, racism, and political favoritism in the office, as reported by Times Union.

“I quickly realized this was not a normal workplace,” said Di Ma, a former assistant counsel at the commission. “I can never work in state service again under the same leadership.”

The accusations have risen to the surface as the commission deals with at least four pending lawsuits dealing with discrimination based on sex, race, and disability, among others. It’s already settled two age-related discrimination suits and forked out $75,000 as a result in the past four years.

Specific instances

According to a long-tenured staffer, the NYGC had pictures of the Ku Klux Klan and a swastika on display for weeks before they were taken down. Larry Maylock, who worked as an auditor for the commission’s Lottery division for more than 30 years, called it “the most toxic organization in the state.”

Maylock found that one image portrayed a white-hooded man and had the words “it’s time to take back Amerikkka.” Another picture featured Goerge Soros in front of a swastika.

Donald Simmons, once a horse racing judge at harness tracks, said that he was told he was hired in 2012 because it would annoy other officials to work with a Black man.

New York’s Office of Employee Relations has received 41 complaints from NYGC employees since 2018—however, it said that the commission has taken appropriate action whenever necessary.

“The morale is so poor at the Gaming Commission, and staff turnover is overwhelming,” an anonymous letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “It is difficult for the agency to find staff because it is known across agencies how difficult it is at the Gaming Commission,” the author, who also spoke of sexual harassment and bullying, wrote.

Avi Small, Hochul’s spokesperson, said that the Gov.’s office never received the letter. However, she also said that Hochul has taken a number of steps to implement new policies and procedures at state offices to help eliminate the concerns expressed by NYGC workers.

The NYGC was one of several state agencies that were hit hard by the pandemic. The workforce has fallen from 423 full-time employees in 2018 to just 308 at the start of the year.

Complaints and responses

The NYGC is in charge of maintaining and regulating the state’s gambling ecosystem. That includes casinos (potentially three new ones as licenses are up for grabs) and the booming legal sports betting industry that regularly churns out over a billion dollars in wagers every month.

The Public Employees Federation (PEF) represents about one-third of NYGC employees. Its representative, Joe McCann, said the complaints he heard did not stand out from those commonly heard at other organizations. He also spoke of grievances of employees performing management-level duties without receiving appropriate compensation.

The commission's inspector general, Lisa Lee, previously found numerous instances of wrongdoing and malpractice in the office that were released by Times Union last year.

According to Lee’s reports, employees gambled on the job, made “suspect” communication with horse racing competitors while overseeing events, and committed sexual harassment. There have also been separate allegations that employees get high while they are on the job.

Lee also found that the response to at least one grievance was purposefully delayed, and the whistleblower was subject to retaliatory behavior from a coworker.

Many other problems have been documented or reported. However, most employees say that their grievances are often ignored or improperly addressed.

Brad Maione, a spokesman for the commission, disagrees with the assertion that the commission houses a toxic work environment. He also said that all reports are investigated and handled appropriately.

“The commission cannot help if unnamed individuals are unsatisfied with the outcome of such investigations or actions,” he said.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.