Addabbo: Addiction Is Biggest Challenge In New York’s Online Casino Gaming Push

Written By Mike Mazzeo on June 23, 2022
addiction funds protect ny online casino gamblers

Addiction is the biggest challenge when trying to pass an online casino gaming bill in New York, Sen. Joe Addabbo told PlayNY. 

Addabbo, who chairs the Senate’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, plans to significantly push the New York online casino expansion bill again for next year’s state legislative budget should he win re-election in District 15. Addabbo’s Democratic primary is on Aug. 23. 

US-gaming expansion bills traditionally face significant opposition, as increased gaming means increased addiction issues. But by not having legal gaming, states essentially force bettors to play in competing states or on unregulated offshore accounts. 

Addabbo’s initial bill — which was released late in the New York State legislative session as a way to start the conversation — included $11 million in additional funding for gambling addiction. 

‘Secure’ it, ‘regulate it, make it safer’

The larger budget makes sense given online casinos’ wider player pool compared with online sports betting. The 24/7 access to play is also a factor.

“What state wouldn’t want more revenue and more educational funding — especially when they see some of that iGaming money leaving New York is either going to another state or doing it illegally?” Addabbo said. “So you want to secure that, regulate it and make it safer. That’s my point of view.

“I do believe, with iGaming, probably our biggest challenge — bigger than the downstate licenses, bigger than mobile sports betting — is the challenge of addiction with iGaming. I think it’s trickier, and therefore we’ll look to do more funds and more in-tune with OASAS (Office of Addiction Services and Supports) on how we address addiction even further.” 

As PlayNY earlier detailed, NY online casino gaming expansion could hinge on how well online sports betting performers as compared to the state’s $615 million tax revenue target for FY2023. 

Addabbo’s earlier iGaming bill also included the following items: 

  • Two online skins for each license holder, composed of casinos and tribes
  • 25% tax rate (promotional play deductible)
  • Master license fees will cost $2 million (plus $10 million for each online skin)
  • $11 million in additional funding for gambling addiction
  • Casinos will house servers

The rejected bill projected that New York would receive an estimated $475 million annually in gaming tax revenue, plus $150 million in one-time licensing fees from casinos, operators and independent contractors looking to conduct business in the state.

That’s the potential that a New York population and fan base brings,” Addabbo said of the massive numbers. “The potential is there.”

New York gambling responsible play efforts

As calls to the NY HOPEline have increased following the Jan. 8 launch of legal online sports betting, addiction services have continued to be an important issue across multiple state agencies. 

Recently, the NYS Gaming Commission, OASAS and the NY Council on Problem Gambling (NYCPG) visited gaming facilities in the state to promote responsible gambling. And signage featuring the first-ever Quick Response or QR code debuted at those facilities.

The QR code enables problem gamblers to connect with locally trained professionals in real-time. You need to point your phone camera at the code. The phone will ask if you would like to open a link to the website NYProblemGamblingHelp.org.

NYCPG executive director Jim Maney told PlayNY.com at the time:

“We’re going to have to deliver services 24/7 now. We can’t have those calls going to voicemail. They have to be answered right away, 24/7, by passionate people who are going to connect people who need help to assistance right away.

“The QR code is a great concept. Now we just need the infrastructure to help folks that call at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning, whatever time — not just during daylight hours.”

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Mike Mazzeo

Mike Mazzeo is a contributing writer for PlayNY, reporting on legal sports betting in New York while covering the potential legalization of NY online casinos and poker. He previously wrote for ESPN, the New York Daily News and The Ringer, among others.

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