Anticipation continues surrounding the possible passage of legislation to legalize online casinos in New York.
While nothing is certain regarding the potential future of NY online casinos, some executives firmly believe that the Empire State will be part of the next wave of states to further expand regulated online gambling.
Panelists at the East Coast Gaming Congress predict that New York — along with Indiana, Illinois and Iowa — will launch online casino gaming in the near future, thanks to an already established (and successful) online NY sports betting industry.
“They already have regulators in place,” said Richard Schwartz, CEO of Rush Street Interactive, which owns BetRivers. “They have servers in place. It’s quicker to start up a casino addition.”
‘Plenty of room for growth’ with NY online casinos on horizon
Currently, six states offer legal online casino gaming, including neighboring New Jersey, Pennsyvlania, Delaware and Connecticut.
But Jeffrey Millar, commercial director of North American operations for online casino content provider Evolution, said there remains “plenty of room for growth.”
David Rebuck, director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, echoed that sentiment.
“The growth in this industry is still in its infancy stages in the U.S.”
For what it’s worth, online casinos in New Jersey have reported nearly $5 billion since launching almost a decade ago. Pennsylvania, meanwhile, has totaled almost $2.5 billion since going live in 2019.
Could NY online casinos threaten land-based business?
On the flip side, some fear exists that online casinos in New York, or in any state, would cannibalize existing land-based establishments. That worry comes not only from brick-and-mortar casinos but also from state legislators.
Such a concern existed in New Jersey, for example. But as many online gaming operators and proponents of legal online casino gaming will tell you, they do not do business to steal revenue or customers. On the contrary, they are present to help complement the land-based casinos.
Consider an anecdote from Luisa Woods, vice president of Delaware North:
“My first job was selling the company that I am not here to compete with your business; I’m here to help it grow. We integrated the brand, we created loyalty accounts for every single remote customer. We had people who would show up at the property for the first time and have a host already assigned to them.”
Similarly, online casinos (and poker, for that matter) would help sustain the NY sports betting industry. Bill Pascrell III of Princeton Public Affairs Group told PlayNY in June that “existing sports betting operators in New York are “dying on a vine” due to the high tax rate.” He noted that New York online sports betting is “just not sustainable at that tax rate.”
Integrating NY online casinos and poker would certainly help.
Where legalization of NY online casinos stands
Last month, at the Racing and Gaming Conference in Saratoga Springs, Howard Glaser mentioned a study conducted by his firm Light & Wonder. Glaser noted that online casinos taxed at a 20% rate could generate $5 billion of possible tax revenue for states.
Efforts to legalize online casinos in New York fizzled at the end of the most recent legislative session. However, hope remains that discussions could ramp up toward the end of 2022.
It remains the top priority for Sen. Joe Addabbo, who aims to have NY online casinos included in the 2023-24 NYS budget. Ideally, lawmakers can open discussions later this year and get the issue in the governor’s January Executive Budget.
“We’re laying the foundation really for next year’s budget,” Addabbo told PlayNY in April. “We’ll have constant conversation about it this year, just to work out the kinks and figure out a roadmap to getting it into the budget next year.”