New York Council On Problem Gambling Makes Recommendations Before Online Sports Betting Launch

Written By Mike Mazzeo on December 9, 2021

The New York Council on Problem Gambling made recommendations to the state earlier this week, with legalized online sports betting expected to launch in the Empire State in early 2022.

In an informative presentation, Jim Mahey, executive director of the NYCPG, asked to implement the following changes:

  1. The creation of the New York State Division of Problem Gambling (similar to combating abuse via drug and alcohol treatment services)
  2. 3% of state revenues from mobile sports betting should go to problem gambling services (currently less than 1% does, per the NYCPG).
  3. Any new forms of gambling including online poker (lottery, casino, etc …) must include 3% of state tax revenues dedicated to problem gambling services
  4. A comprehensive, four-year plan to address building infrastructure and raising awareness

New York could ultimately hit $1 billion in annual revenue via online sports betting — or what the NYCPG refers to as $1 billion in losses for wagerers.

Problem gambling services expect to receive an additional $6 million in funding for 2022. But the organization has stated it believes $20 million would more adequately address its needs for next year.

National Council on Problem Gambling praises efforts of NYCPG

Keith Whyte, the executive director for the National Council on Problem Gambling, came away impressed with the NYCPG’s presentation.

“I think it’s something all of our state chapters should be doing,” Whyte, who wasn’t involved with Mahey’s efforts, told PlayNY. “I thought the 3% figure was great because they are now setting the standard. We generally call for 1%. We advocated in Ohio, Massachusetts and Virginia, and they went to 2%. Now, New York is raising the bar.

“It shows the evolution of Responsible Gambling. It shows that if we look at this as a public health issue, we need more money.”

Long-term investment is necessary to combat problem gambling

In its presentation, the NYCPG laid out a funding plan for the next four years.

That outlook includes:

  1. 2022: Additional $6 million from mobile sports betting
  2. 2023: Additional $9 million from new downstate casinos
  3. 2024: Additional TBD — 3% of mobile sports betting and all newly legalized forms of gambling ($15-20 million estimated)
  4. 2025: Additional TBD — 3% of mobile sports betting and all newly legalized forms of gambling ($15-20 million estimated)

The NCPG said that providing early education to children in New York — starting at 10 years old — is key as the NY online sports betting market and other forms of gambling continue to expand.

“The money you spend on problem gambling prevention and health programs, it’s an investment,” Whyte said.

He called the proposal a “win-win” and noted that each dollar spent preventing or treating gambling addiction saves at least $2 in social cost, “addiction-related” costs such as bankruptcy and crime.

“So there’s a real economic imperative here. Investing money to prevent gambling addiction will save the state of New York more than they invest. It’s a potentially enormous payoff. And if done right, it’ll be 100% funded by new gambling revenue. Literally, the addiction could pay for itself.”

Highlights of NYCPG four-year plan

As listed on a PowerPoint slide, the NYCPG outlined four main points it would like to see after NY online sportsbooks launch in the Empire State.

  1. First year: Helpline, VSE, Workforce Development, Peer Supports, Inpatient Treatment, Cultural Competency, Focus on Reducing Stigma
  2. Second year: Research, Statewide Awareness Programs, Statewide Services Marketing
  3. Third year: Industry Evidence-Based Prevention Programs, Statewide Responsible Gambling Awareness Campaigns, Expanded Treatment Levels of Care
  4. Fourth year: Problem Gambling Treatment Courts and Alternative Sentencing Programs, Mandatory Problem Gambling Screening Across All Relevant Statewide Systems, Gaming and Gambling Addiction Services Spectrum

“I do know that we have a little less than a dozen safeguards built into the language of the bill, and we’re also doing the additional $6 million every year which is new funding for addiction programs,” Sen. Joe Addabbo told PlayNY. “If anything else is thought of creatively and credibly, then my team will entertain it. We’ll consider it. But nothing has been floated our way at this point.”

Photo by AP / Wayne Parry
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Mike Mazzeo

Mike Mazzeo is the Lead Writer for PlayNY, arriving after covering several of New York's professional sports teams in a variety of roles for the past decade. Previously, he served as a beat writer and columnist covering the Brooklyn Nets (ESPN) and New York Yankees (New York Daily News). Mike also covered both the MLB and NBA nationally for Yahoo Sports. In addition, he served as a general assignment reporter for ESPN NewYork.com. He has also had bylines in the New York Times, New York Post, Newsday, Forbes and The Ringer. With PlayNY, Mike brings extensive coverage and unique story angles to what is projected to be one of the biggest and most lucrative online sports betting markets in the country. It's been an arduous and confounding process to get here, but 20 million New Yorkers (many of them die-hards) are now legally able to bet on their favorite sports teams across the state via online and mobile platforms.

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