Nearly Identical NY iGaming Bills Have Equally Long Odds Of Passing In 2024

Written By David Danzis on March 6, 2024 - Last Updated on March 7, 2024
Image of Sen. Joseph Addabbo and Assemb. Gary Pretlow for a story comparing their bills to legalizing online casinos in New York

New York online casinos are a long shot for legalization in 2024.

But the two pieces of legislation that could legalize NY online casinos are still worth exploring, particularly since they would need to be reconciled if the State Legislature ever moves on iGaming.

Most are familiar with the efforts of Sen. Joseph Addabbo efforts to legalize iGaming in the Empire State. The Queens-based Democrat enthusiastically supports online casinos, online poker and internet lottery as a way to generate additional tax revenue for various purposes, including education, transportation and problem gambling services.

Assemb. Gary Pretlow has worked in tandem with Addabbo to allow New Yorkers to legally gamble online. The two state lawmakers were the driving force behind NY’s launch of sports betting in New York, and Pretlow, D-Mount Vernon, fashions himself as the “father of sports betting.”

Addabbo, chair of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, reintroduced his bill, with amendments, on Feb. 1. It currently rests in Addabbo’s committee. Pretlow, chair of the Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee, introduced his online casino legislation on Feb. 14. It also rests in the sponsor’s committee.

Two online casino bills closely resemble each other

Since the political impetus for legalizing online casinos in NY is money, the most pertinent element of the bills is the tax rate. Both bills set the online casino tax rate at 30.5% of gross gaming revenue.

That figure is considerably lower than the state’s tax rate on sports betting revenue (51%) but still higher than most other states, including nearby New Jersey (15%) and Connecticut (20%).

Fiscal estimates of NY’s online casino legalization range from $1 billion per year to $4 billion annually in additional tax revenue for the state.

Assembly, Senate proposals look to boost problem gambling treatment

Both bills – A9198 in the Assembly and S5185 in the Senate – also dedicate $11 million annually to problem gambling and treatment services.

Another responsible gambling feature included in both pieces of legislation involves customer deposit levels. According to the text of the bills, when a player’s lifetime deposit total hits $2,500, the online casino operator must advise the player of RG tools, such as self-exclusion and setting bet limits.

Other similarities between the two bills include:

  • requirements for online gaming servers to be housed at physical gaming facilities in NY
  • limit of one branded online skin per interactive licensee
  • a one-time $2 million licensing fee for existing casinos, racinos and video lottery terminals in the state
  • conditions for tribal gaming operators to enter the market

Does either bill have a better shot at passage in 2024?

It should come as no surprise that both bills from Pretlow and Addabbo mirror each other. The two lawmakers have long worked closely with each other to expand legal gambling in New York.

This approach essentially puts the same bill in both chambers, thereby doubling the odds of passage overall rather than having competing bills that could cannibalize one another.

That said, it may not matter which chamber the bill is presented. Outside forces are more impactful.

The New York Hotel and Gaming Trades Council represents the biggest hurdle for NY online casino legalization, with leaders calling the efforts “a job killer.” Addabbo did amend his bill to help address union concerns.

But even the racino in the senator’s own district, Resorts World NYC, wrote in a letter that legalizing online casinos in New York “would hurt” not only the gambling industry as a whole but also the individual employees who work at casinos.

Neither Addabbo’s bill in the Senate nor Pretlow’s in the Assembly have been discussed in committee just yet. And neither committee has a meeting scheduled in the near term. So only time will tell if either proposal can gain traction.

Photo by PlayNY
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David Danzis

David Danzis is a writer for PlayNY. A New Jersey native and honors graduate of Rutgers University, he served as a newspaper reporter for the New Jersey Herald and Press of Atlantic City, earning statewide awards for his coverage of politics, government, education, sports and business. Today, he contributes to New York's growing legal gambling landscape, including online sports betting and potential legalization of NY online casinos. David lives in Mays Landing with his wife and two children. When not on the beach, a golf course, or snowboarding, David enjoys watching his beloved New York sports teams — Yankees, Jets, Rangers and Knicks.

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