A bill aimed at establishing a problem gambling board in New York seems to have stalled in Albany, falling a step shorter than last year’s gubernatorial veto.
The proposed legislation, SB6701, to create a Problem Gambling Advisory Council (PGAC) has hit a roadblock in the state Assembly after passing the Senate earlier this month.
The bill’s status raises questions about its fate and the future of problem gambling initiatives in the state.
Lawmakers still focused on assisting problem gambling
The State Legislature, which recently concluded its session, could potentially reconvene this summer to address unfinished business. However, there is no guarantee that SB6701, or its Assembly companion, AB1056, will be among the issues taken up by lawmakers in Albany.
As New York’s gambling industry continues to expand, national gaming issues become local concerns. A reported rise in problem gambling instances — especially among younger people — continues to be a focal point as more states legalize various forms of digital betting.
The NY sports betting industry establishing itself as the largest in the country is due entirely to online gambling. There are also 31 casinos or racinos in NY and a state-sponsored lottery as well as horse racing.
With three more full licenses for downstate retail NY casinos set to be issued, concerns about problem gambling and its impact on individuals and communities are growing.
According to the bill’s text, the intent behind creating a PGAC in New York is to “identify issues affecting those suffering from a problem gambling disorder and recommend ways to make prevention and treatment more accessible throughout the state.” The council would consist of members appointed by the governor and the legislature, including representatives from the gambling industry, mental health professionals and affected individuals.
New Yorkers seeking help with a gambling-related disorder already have several options, including the New York Responsible Play Partnership, which includes the New York State Gaming Commission, the Office of Addiction Services and Supports and the New York Council on Problem Gambling. Also, New Yorkers have access to the National Council on Problem Gambling or the 1-(800)-GAMBLER hotline.
Not the first bite at the NY problem gambling apple
This latest setback marks the second time in the past year that efforts to create a PGAC in New York have faced hurdles.
In June 2022, a similar piece of legislation successfully made its way through both houses of the State Legislature, only to be vetoed by Gov. Kathy Hochul in November. Hochul cited cost concerns as a justification for her veto.
The current proposal represents the fifth attempt by lawmakers to establish a Problem Gambling Advisory Council in the state since 2015.
As the fate of the proposed bill remains uncertain, advocates for problem gambling prevention and treatment will closely monitor the actions of the State Legislature. The potential reconvening of lawmakers this summer could offer a glimmer of hope for the bill’s supporters, but ultimately, the decision lies in the hands of the legislators in Albany.