NY Senate Gaming Committee OKs 3 Bills Related To Problem Gambling

Written By David Danzis on March 14, 2024
Image of New York State Capitol for a story on a Senate committee advancing bills addressing problem gambling

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month and the New York Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee got the message loud and clear.

The committee advanced three bills at its monthly meeting, each containing some element of gambling harm mitigation.

On Tuesday morning, the Senate committee voted in favor of legislation that would increase problem gambling funding, mandate warning labels on certain gambling advertisements and set the legal gambling age at 21 across the state.

Sen. Joseph Addabbo, chair of the gaming committee, said at the onset of the meeting that the trio of bills were “our way of raising awareness and addressing the issue” of problem gambling and promoting responsible gambling in New York.

Addabbo, D-Queens, is the primary sponsor of two of the bills, S8439 and S1557. The chairman is also the leading proponent of regulated gambling expansion in the Empire State. Addabbo is also the prime sponsor of a Senate bill to legalize online casinos in NY.

First bill increases funding for problem gambling treatment

The first of Addabbo’s problem gambling bills, S8439, will guarantee millions of dollars for problem gambling treatment and education. It would authorize a 1% tax on mobile sports betting in NY or at least $6 million annually, whichever is greater.

Addabbo said the bill makes sense given the economic success of New York online sports betting. Since launching internet sports wagering in NY in January 2022, the NY market leads the US in terms of the amount of money gambled (the handle) and sportsbook operator revenue.

“As the handle goes up, that $6 million that we put (toward problem gambling programs) — which really was groundbreaking nationally — is staying constant,” Addabbo said.

“So, as we increase the activity of mobile sports betting, that $6 million stays constant. What we’re doing here is hopefully adding more money to problem gaming programs.”

Addabbo also looks to set universal legal gambling age

The other Addabbo-backed bill moved Tuesday would set the legal gambling age at 21 in NY.

The senator said S1557 brings uniformity to the state’s video lottery terminals, as some allow patrons 18 years of age to gamble.

The bill’s text was ambiguous for Sen. Pamela Helling, R-Canandaigua, who questioned whether bingo games organized by volunteer fire departments in her district would be subject to the new law. Addabbo assured her it would not.

Could warning labels be coming to gambling advertisements?

Sen. Leroy Comrie, D-St. Albans, is sponsoring S1550. According to the bill’s summary, it requires gambling advertisements to include warnings about the risks associated with betting.

It will also require the New York State Gaming Commission to cooperate with the commissioner of addiction services and support to ensure that all advertisements for gaming activity clearly show a problem gambling hotline number.

Comrie, a member of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, had this to say on Tuesday:

“This is just another opportunity to raise awareness. I just wanted to make sure that anything that was related to habitual habits would be given a warning.”

Photo by Hans Pennink / AP Photo
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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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