NYCPG Offers Its Two Cents: Triple Our Funding, Divide Gaming Commission

Written By Derek Helling on February 18, 2021 - Last Updated on February 19, 2021

As the New York legislature considers expanding legal gambling again, one agency focused on problem gambling in the state has offered its two cents on the subject.

The New York Council on Problem Gambling has a few ideas it recently shared in a public statement.

Among its suggestions: a massive increase in funding for its programs, and a new framework for regulating the gambling industry in the Empire State. However, the statement leaves much to be desired.

Summing up the statement on New York problem gambling

The statement wastes no time in getting straight to the point. The first paragraph paints the New York State Gaming Commission, the state bureau responsible for overseeing gambling, as conflicted in its interests. It described the commission as a “promoter” of gambling while simultaneously enforcing regulations.

The council’s recommendation to remedy that problem is to remove the Gaming Inspector General from the commission’s oversight. Additionally, it proposes creating another state agency specifically for problem gambling services.

The statement then goes into its argument for expanded gambling leading to an increase in demand for resources for individuals with compulsive gambling issues. For the most part, the rest of the statement centers on that subject.

NYCPG proposes increased funding to address problem gambling

The council made a few recommendations on how to address the potential increased demand for problem gambling services. These include increasing state funding for the council to $15 million annually.

Currently, that allotment sits at $5.7 million. As far as where the extra funding will come from, here’s the council’s plan:

  • Problem gambling prevention and preparation support fee calculated at 2% of the initial, one-time mobile sports betting licensing fee
  • An annual problem gambling support fee calculated at 2% of the required annual mobile gaming licensing fee
  • An annual problem gambling advertising and marketing fee calculated at 5% of the licensee’s/ operator’s annual NYS targeted advertising and marketing expenses
  • All fines in violation of regulations related to responsible and/or problem gambling are dedicated to environmental prevention efforts to combat the violations

The statement makes a strong case for a need for more problem gambling resources. However, it does not present much evidence for its other suggestions.

Does the data support the council’s recommendations?

The statement fails to present any information to support its characterization of the NYSGC as a “promoter” of gambling in the state. So, painting the commission as more supportive of casinos’ interests than those of gamblers in the state falls flat in the letter.

Even if that was the case, there’s no guarantee that dividing its powers would address that issue. Taking enforcement and inspection powers away from the commission could actually make it more inclined to “promote” gambling.

The council also fails to specify what it will do with the extra $10 million it would receive each year. The text leads readers to believe that the funding would simply go to meet new demand on existing resources.

However, all that increased demand is based on simply projecting statistics forward. At this point, it’s just an assumption. That doesn’t invalidate the council’s reasoning, though.

The council is absolutely spot-on that every gambling expansion should take problem gambling resources into account. Additionally, the argument that the gambling license holders should provide the funding for those resources is sound.

The council wants to make sure that the state considers the effects of gambling expansion on those who struggle with compulsive gambling. It deserves a seat at the table as the debate goes forward.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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