ICYMI: Here is the final installment of our three-part series on the expansion of casino gambling, New York’s Big Bet. You can view the full series, plus web extras, here.

Fortunes are won and lost in casinos, but a fortune could also hinge on where one is built in upstate New York — and where.

With so much money at stake, critics of casino gambling say the process has the potential to be corrupted.

“I think the public should be very watching very carefully, I think that advocacy groups should be watching very carefully all of the filings for everyone – not just at the state level, but at the local level and elected office. Where is the money pouring in and for what reasons?” asked state Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan.

State officials and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have insisted the ongoing process to select a casino development project will remain free of corrupt influences, pointing to numerous safeguards put in place, as well as an unusual level of transparency when it comes to the information on the potential developers.

“The cynics said, ‘you’re not going to get the applications, the time is done, gaming is over the curve.’ I think you’ve had more interest and it’s gone better than people suspected that it might early on, so I’m very pleased,” said Cuomo.

Nevertheless, Cuomo’s office isn’t leaving much to chance. According to an internal memo by the governor’s top legal aide, Mylan Denerstein, first obtained by Capital Tonight, Cuomo administration staffers are warned to avoid any contact with casino lobbyists or supporters about the placement process:

Since you may not know whether the person communicating with you is representing a bidder, you should assume that everyone contacting you about any of these issues is representing an interested party and decline to discuss the matter.

New York does not have the best track record with corruption to begin with, and influence from casino companies and other gambling interests have proved for some especially troubling in previous years. In 2010, the state inspector general issued a scathing report blasting the Paterson administration and state lawmakers for turning a bidding process for video slot machines at the Aqueduct Race Track into a “political free for all.”

“For an endeavor of this size and scale, you certainly want to have a comprehensive review process. I’m not going to sit here and say the state always gets it right,” said Heather Bricetti, the Business Council president.

An effort last year to block casino companies from donating to the campaigns of state lawmakers and other candidates was quietly removed from legislation governing casino gambling. The change gave gambling opponents pause.

“I’m very worried still about the corruption influence of gambling and in fact those who have controlled casinos in different states throughout the country have been found to bribe local officials, make side deals with local officials,” Krueger said.

Yet, the state Gaming Commission and gaming facility location board is requiring a large swath of information from developers including financial data. The Gaming Commission’s website is also posting the names of the lobbyists who are representing the various casino developers, and the state is contracting with a Chicago-based law firm to conduct extensive background checks on the companies wishing to build casinos.

“It’s a very voluminous process and the paper applications alone probably constitute 40 pounds alone and you have to submit 20 copies,” said Wilmorite CEO Tom Wilmot.

Developers aren’t necessarily complaining about the state’s financial and legal x-ray of their businesses, noting it’s good for business if the selection process is above board.

“It has to be comprehensive. They have to make the right decisions and they’re doing their due diligence,” said Sal Semola, the president of Foxwoods Catskills Resort.

For now, gambling opponents say they’re watching closely to see how the development process unfolds.

“When millions and millions of dollars are spent on lobbying, there’s no way for a disinterested decision to be made,” said Stephen Shafer, of Coalition Against Gambling.