Billionaire James Dolan Sues New York Liquor Authority After Madison Square Garden Facial Recognition Software Controversy
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Billionaire James Dolan Sues New York Liquor Authority After Madison Square Garden Facial Recognition Software Controversy

Billionaire James Dolan Sues New York Liquor Authority After Madison Square Garden Facial Recognition Software Controversy

(Photo: Brittainy Newman/AP Photo)

The battle between billionaire James Dolan and New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) continues. On Saturday, the Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corporation filed a lawsuit against SLA. The state entity is being accused of “abuse of power targeting a good corporate citizen.” Dolan isn’t holding anything back in recent statements towards the liquor authority.

“This gangster-like governmental organization has finally run up against an entity that won’t cower in the face of their outrageous abuses,” said James Dolan, Executive Chairman and CEO of MSG Entertainment in a statement. “While others that have been subject to this harassment may have been forced into submission or silence, we are taking a stand on behalf of our fans and the many small businesses who have long been subject to the SLA’s corruption.”

Last December, SLA informed MSG that the corporation’s policy to ban lawyers could potentially lead to a loss of the liquor licenses at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Musci Hall and the Beacon Theater. 

A major concern is MSG’s use of facial recognition technology to deny individuals entrance to the venues. This mostly targets lawyers or law firms who are involved in litigation against Dolan himself or MSG. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James called on MSG to inform her office of the steps being taken to comply with New York’s civil and human rights laws and “ensure that its facial recognition technology will not lead to discrimination.”

Regardless of how MSG is denying people entrance, the targeted ban goes against New York law. Businesses with a state-issued license to sell alcohol cannot deny access to the general public. 

“It’s very public flouting of the rules that the SLA has the duty to enforce. They wouldn’t be doing their job if they allowed someone to so publicly flout their rules without any consequence,” said New York City attorney Ken Belkin, according to Fox 5.

As reported by Fox 5, New York State Senator Liz Krueger said, “I don’t think that this is allowed under New York State Liquor Licensing, so I wrote a letter to the SLA saying ‘Pull their licenses if they continue to do this.'”

In January, Dolan threatened to stop serving alcohol at MSG. As part of this, he planned to display an image of New York SLA CEO, Sharif Kabir along with contact information in order for attendees to complain to Kabir about not having alcohol. It doesn’t appear that Dolan ever went through with this threat. 

MSG has not announced if its policy of banning lawyers will now extend to New York state employees who are now involved in litigation with Dolan and the corporation. 

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Jessica Gleman is the managing editor of Rum Raiders. She received her Ph.D. at the University College of Dublin in Ireland, where she studied the archaeology of ancient alcohol. Jessica has a passion for the alcohol industry, including agriculture, distillation and mixology. When Jessica is not writing about rum, she is also a travel and food enthusiast who loves going around the world and experiencing various cuisines and cultures. She is enthusiastic about sharing her knowledge and expertise and learning even more about this amazing spirit.