NY Online Casinos Face Uphill Battle As Governor Leaves Industry Out Of Executive Budget

Written By Grant Lucas on January 16, 2024
Gov. Kathy Hochul talks about her 2024 Executive Budget that did not include the legalization of online casinos in New York

As 2024 neared and then began, optimism abounded for the legalization of online casinos in New York this year.

That outlook, however, took a hit on Tuesday when Gov. Kathy Hochul released the $233 billion Executive Budget, which did not include online casinos in NY.

“This budget makes it clear that fiscal discipline can co-exist with progressive, people-driven policies,” Hochul said. “I am committed to fight the right fights on behalf of New Yorkers, and to pursue the common good with common sense – by seeking common ground.”

Certainly it won’t be the end of the fight for the likes of Sen. Joe Addabbo, whose recent bill proposal would authorize New York online casino gaming as well as internet lottery. That said, Hochul’s exclusion doesn’t bode well for the bill’s future.

Now, Addabbo and his cohort will have until March 31 to change the minds of lawmakers. That is the date Hochul and the State Legislature must agree to a final budget.

Executive Budget does not include NY online casino tax revenue

All told, Hochul’s proposed Executive Budget stands as a $233 billion funding plan if approved, topping last year’s $229 billion package for the state’s largest in history.

The budget focuses on reducing crime, rebuilding mental health system, maintaining safety for kids in schools and online while also making New York more affordable.

“Through the policies I have laid out in my State of the State and this Budget,” Hochul wrote in her introductory message to the budget, “my administration will accomplish a solid, balanced budget without cuts or placing an added burden on taxpayers, all while delivering the programs and services New Yorkers care about most.”

If summarized, Budget Director Blake Washington told Spectrum News, the budget aims at a “big three” of “school aid, Medicaid and migrants.”

“We’ve got to get back to a level where our spending meets our revenues and that certainly was not the case,” Washington said. He then added what could be perceived as a bit of a jab at online casino legalization:

“We have to just reflect those new realities and we have to actually be responsible to the long term without raising taxes, without raiding reserves, without gimmicks – we have to actually just do this budget and get back to a more sort of acceptable way of budgeting, where we provide for the needs that are out there.”

Future of 2024 legalization in doubt for NY online casinos

The budget came less than a week after Addabbo filed a new bill proposal to legalize New York online casinos.

The bill, S8185, would legalize typical online casino offerings such as slots and table games as well as online poker in NY and online lottery.

While Addabbo has frequently and consistently expressed optimism for 2024 being the year of online casino legalization, shortly after he posted the bill, a prominent industry executive attempted to offer a realistic take to New York pushing the legislation across the finish line.

Howard Glaser, the global head of government affairs for Light & Wonder, estimated that the chances of passage stood at “less than 50%.”

“They are distracted by the clunky NYC casino expansion process,” Glaser said, referring to the lengthy downstate licensing process that crossed one year last week. “State is not known for its bandwidth to handle multiple issues.”

NY gaming initiatives included in budget

The New York gambling industry did not go completely ignored by Hochul, as horse racing in the Empire State received some attention.

For example, her budget calls for an extension of parimutuel tax rates and simulcast provisions for one year. The goal is to “maintain the current parimutuel wagering structure” in New York. The state can do so by extending “various expiring … provisions,” which the previous Executive Budget did.

In addition, the most recent budget would provide financial flexibility to the Capital Off-Track Betting Corporation, which would be able to use up to $1 million of its capital acquisition fund for another year.

Photo by Hans Pennink / AP Photo
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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is the managing editor for PlayNY. A longtime, award-winning sports writer, Grant has covered gambling and legal sports betting since 2018, when he got his start reporting on the New Jersey and Pennsylvania industries. He now oversees PlayNY as New York expands legalized gambling to sports betting and online casino gaming.

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