Assemblyman Plans To Join Senator In Push For Online Casinos In New York

Written By Matthew Kredell on March 4, 2022 - Last Updated on April 26, 2022
NY Online Casinos Online Poker

An online casino bill is coming in the New York Assembly.

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow tells PlayNY that he plans to follow Sen. Joe Addabbo’s lead in filing legislation to legalize internet casino gaming, including online slots, table games and poker. But he won’t prioritize the bill until next year.

Pretlow and Addabbo, who chair the gaming committees in their respective chambers, often work together on gambling legislation. They introduced companion bills on NY online sports betting for years.

But Pretlow said he did not work on the online casino bill with Addabbo and hadn’t seen the bill prior to its introduction. However, after analyzing it over the past week, he likely will file companion legislation in the Assembly.

“You will more than likely see a similar bill introduced in the Assembly in the very near future,” Pretlow said. “I don’t foresee any changes, but I’ll look at it in more depth.”

Expect resistance in the Assembly

While the New York Senate tried to push for online sports betting for years, the Assembly resisted until the former governor came on board.

Pretlow doesn’t expect the Assembly to embrace NY online casinos any time soon.

“There’s a lot of resistance in the Assembly,” Pretlow said. “That’s not a secret. Everyone knows there’s resistance in the Assembly to this, but I want to overcome that resistance.”

Among colleagues who were uncertain about expanding sports betting online, he thinks they actually will be more hesitant to do online casinos after seeing the amount being wagered on sports.

“If anything, it might make it more difficult after how the rollout went, because people see there’s a large appetite for gambling,” Pretlow said. “A lot of people are concerned that there’s too much gambling. Some people want to pull back a little.”

Read More: Post-Budget Legislative Session Starts With Online Casino, Expanded Sports Betting Proposals

Doing online casino without constitutional amendment

During previous attempts to legalize online poker, Pretlow separated online poker from other forms of iGaming as a skill game.

He stressed the importance of the skill game classification because the state constitution prohibits gambling outside of state lotteries, racetracks and casinos.

However, he believes that all changed with sports betting. After Addabbo obtained legal briefs from top law firms in the state explaining how wagers are taken at servers located on casinos, New York used the theory to launch online sports betting in January.

“If we go by the same thought pattern as with mobile sports betting, that the server at a casino is where the bet is made, that should be the same as betting with online casino,” Pretlow said.

iGaming must be done through casinos

For years, Addabbo and Pretlow pushed for online sportsbooks to be tethered to the state’s casino properties.

Instead, the state ended up partnering directly with online sportsbooks, which pay a fee to casinos to host the servers.

Online casinos could be a way to make it up to casino properties that were expecting more than a $5 million annual hosting fee with sports betting.

“It would have to be done through the casinos,” Pretlow said. “If you look at apps in New Jersey, they’re all associated through casinos. These aren’t free-flowing online casinos. They’re all attached to brick and mortars.”

Addabbo’s bill proposes two online skins for commercial casinos and New York Indian tribes. Even though the state-run model has been successful in the early months of sports betting, Pretlow thinks the state will accept doing online casinos through casinos.

“It makes sense for casinos to handle online casino games more than it did with sports betting,” Pretlow said. “Sports aren’t taking place at the casinos. People are betting on an outside entity, whereas with online casino people are betting against the house.”

Pretlow won’t prioritize push this year

Although he will introduce a bill, Pretlow indicated that his priorities aren’t yet there with online casinos.

His main focus is on completing the selection of downstate casinos, which would be good to have in place prior to online casinos.

“My priority right now is the acceleration of additional licenses and making sure online sports betting is at a place where it is more sustainable and can be more predictable,” Pretlow said. “Then I’ll look at online casinos and online poker. It’s not that they can’t happen at the same time. I just don’t think they will happen at the same time. Next year will be the real push.”

Photo by AP / Hans Pennink
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Matthew Kredell

Matthew Kredell reports on efforts to legalize sports wagering and online casino gaming around the country. He covered the multi-year effort to legalize online sports betting in New York from the beginning. He talks to state lawmakers, lobbyists and industry representatives to get the scoop on new gambling developments in the Empire State and was at the forefront when the state budget included the authorization of legal online sports betting in 2021. Matthew has covered the legal gambling industry since 2007, getting into regulated sports betting three years later. An alum of USC, Matthew began his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News. He has also contributed to publications that include Playboy, Men’s Journal and ESPN.

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