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New York State Shaming Commission

An article in Times Union this week shed light on what former employees described as a “toxic” work environment within the New York State Gaming Commission.

The article details how “sexual harassment, racial discrimination, bullying and political favoritism” have plagued the Empire State’s gambling regulator in recent years.

Examples include signs featuring the Ku Klux Klan hanging on the wall of the Commision’s headquarters, while the regulator is also currently embroiled in “at least four lawsuits alleging discrimination on the basis of sex, race, disability and related retaliation.”

New York state’s Office of Employee Relations has apparently received 41 complaints from Gaming Commission employees since December 2018, of which 10 have been substantiated.

The regulator has taken appropriate administrative action in response, the office said.

For former employees, however, the damage has already been done.

One former assistant counsel suggested that after her spell at the commission, “I can never work in state service again under the same leadership.”

Meanwhile, a former auditor in the commission’s lottery division described it as “the most toxic organisation in the state,” with others calling the workplace “a nightmare”, “dysfunctional” and “hostile”.

As a result, “staff turnover is overwhelming” within the regulator, one commenter suggested, while the Times Union’s article features a laundry list of additional complaints.

For its part, the regulator hit back suggesting “[New York Governor] Hochul has made clear that there’s no place for harassment and abuse in her administration, and since taking office in 2021 she has taken significant action to implement new policies, trainings and workplace protections that support and protect the state workforce.”

Readers are encouraged to check out the full list of accusations for themselves.

Time to reclaim Friday?

The Financial Times put the four-day work week back into the spotlight this week with its suggestion that “Friday is just a dead day.”

The fact that Friday is iGaming NEXT’s beloved weekly Hot Copy Day notwithstanding, could the author have a valid point?

The article takes us right back to the 1960s, when US companies first started letting their staff leave a few hours early on the Friday afternoons between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

That was reportedly a strategy to allow NYC execs to beat the traffic to their beach houses in the Hamptons.

Fast forward 60 or so years, and today “an increasing number of workers have started giving themselves a shortened last day of the week – often worked from home – all year round.”

One Wall Street analyst described their Friday schedule thus: “Log into Teams, check email, then live my life,” which one must admit sounds rather pleasant, if not entirely productive.

Meanwhile, Stanford economics professor Nick Bloom was the one who named Friday “just a dead day,” as backed up by the evidence which shows office buildings in major US cities averaged around 56% of their pre-pandemic occupancy last Tuesday, as compared to just 31% on Friday.

In New York, Friday attendance was even lower at just 21%.

“The demise of Fridays has been forecast for decades,” the article suggests, with Richard Nixon claiming as far back as 1956 that Americans would be working just four days a week in the “not too distant future.”

For economics professor Bloom, that change can’t come soon enough. “If it were me, I would just close the office down on Fridays,” he concluded.

While many will be minded to agree, can we really envisage a world where Hot Copy comes out every Thursday?

Yellow card betting on red alert

According to an article in the Mail Online, the FA is currently in talks with bookies around restricting bets on yellow cards and similar in-game incidents.

Football’s governing body has overseen four high-profile probes into yellow card betting in the last five years, while the Mail suggested that there have been other cases that never saw the light of day.

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka and Oxford defender Ciaran Brown have both been investigated for suspicious bookings in games in the last 18 months, albeit without any action being taken.

Lincoln City’s Bradley Wood, however, was handed a six-year ban by the FA after being found guilty of deliberately getting booked twice, in an attempt to nefariously win £10,000 on pre-arranged bets.

“The FA are concerned that yellow card markets in particular are open to manipulation,” the article suggests, while officials at the department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which oversees gambling legislation in the UK, have responded positively to the proposed ban.

A formal ban would require the involvement of the Gambling Commission, of course, but the FA is also set on persuading individual operators to give up the bet type voluntarily.

Kindred-owned brands Unibet and 32Red are already leading the charge here, having given up offering bets on bookings in professional football matches.

Yellow card bets are also already outlawed in other jurisdictions, such as Germany and Sweden, so there is some international precedent there to be followed.

Is this another example of the Nanny State getting in punters’ way, or is there a real argument for outlawing the bet type?

If the FA gets its way, UK bettors may soon find bets on bookings have been sent off.