State lawmakers approved the expansion of casino gambling last week with enabling legislation that provides and the second passage of a constitutional amendment that now goes to voters in a referendum.

Not approved, but what was originally proposed, was a ban on casino interests that have submitted licenses to build and operate and some of their employees from giving money to political candidates’ campaigns.

How convenient for lawmakers and casino operators!

Indeed, it’s something of an inverse of the old Captain Renault quote from “Casablanca” — I’m shocked, SHOCKED, politicians would be eager to receive money from casino interests.

But why was the language somewhat quietly removed?

The post-mortem is in this afternoon with three varying theories.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who had initially sought the ban, said this afternoon in Rochester an agreement on a prohibition couldn’t be worked out.

“We couldn’t work out everything,” Cuomo said. “Some things we couldn’t come to terms with. Any casino or gaming interest that contributes money to the referendum campaign will be disclosed and any political donation that any casino interest makes to a politician that will be disclosed so there will be disclosure on everything.”

Any money contributed for or against the referendum effort as an independent expenditure has to be reported to the state’s gaming commission, according to the bill.

Sen. John Bonacic, the chairman of Senate Committee on Racing, Wagering and Gaming has a different explanation, namely that such a ban runs afoul of constitutional issues.

“When you start trying to limit political contributions you run into constitutional problems,” Bonacic said on the Senate floor Friday night as the bill was being debated. “So you know when you talk of corruption that depends on the integrity of the people you’re dealing with. There are positives and negatives when you talk about gaming… we try to provide to offset the negatives with host fees and other economic relief. You do this balancing of scale test and you weigh the positives and the negatives. That’s the purpose of the referendum. Let the people decide.”

And what say you, NYPIRG researcher Bill Mahoney?

“I don’t know why they decided to take this ban out.”

Well, that’s no help, Bill, geez! Hmm, let’s ask this question a different way: If there’s no ban on contributions from companies who are in the business of building casinos, what might happen?

“By taking this ban out, they basically created a whole new class of special interest money,” Mahoney said. “Casinos have always given to some degree, but once they have a physical presence in this state the money will just explode and legislators going forward will get a lot of money from them. I’m sure there will be some scandals.”