It’s official: The fight is back on for legal online casinos in New York.
Sen. Joe Addabbo, D-Queens, introduced a bill on Jan. 11 to authorize the legalization of New York online casinos. The legislation would also green light online lottery and online poker in the Empire State.
Addabbo, chairman of the NY Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, has been attempting to legalize online gambling in NY for some time. His latest effort, S8185, is comparable to previous proposals, although there are changes in the new legislation related to things like operators’ promotional deductions and online server requirements.
The newest filing comes on the heels of a monthslong buildup from Addabbo, who has consistently emphasized the need for New York to legalize online casino gaming. Not only to better treat residents who may suffer from problem gambling and gambling addiction, but also to help the Empire State cut into a $4.3 billion deficit it currently faces.
Will 2024 be the year New York online casinos cross finish line?
For years, Addabbo and Asm. Gary Pretlow, D-Mount Vernon, have fought for online casino legalization in New York. Each effort, however, fell well short of the goal.
In fact, in both 2022 and 2023, bill proposals never even made it out of committee.
This time, though, the scene seems different.
As mentioned, New York stands face-to-face with a $4.3 billion deficit. With Gov. Kathy Hochul remaining steadfastly against raising taxes, and with cutting programs doing only so much to help the situation, legal online casinos in NY represents a strong candidate to help the Empire State dig out of this massive hole.
“You have to look for revenue,” Addabbo told PlayNY in November.
“Here’s new revenue in New York, certainly in terms of iGaming and iLottery. Estimates are about a billion dollars. So how the hell are they gonna sit back and not help people with an addiction, not recoup money that you’re already losing, and how long can you sit back?”
Can NY online casino bill clear cannibalization concerns?
One of the bigger hurdles remains the fear of cannibalization regarding the four upstate land-based casinos as well as the incoming properties around the New York City area.
Addabbo, though, carries no such concerns. And he contends that you shouldn’t either.
“For those people who say to me, ‘We’ve got to be careful about iGaming in New York; it’s going to cannibalize brick-and-mortar,’ no it will not,” Addabbo told PlayNY in November. “We can have legislative language that I’m already working on in the draft that will provide and protect the jobs at brick-and-mortar and actually improve jobs at brick-and-mortar and still have the growth of iGaming.”
“All those live dealers that have to be in New York, all the live studio workers that have to be in New York, those are union members. So we not only protect the current brick-and-mortar workers, we actually increase the union members there.”