The legalization of New York online casinos wasn’t included in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s executive budget for fiscal year 2024, and Sen. Joe Addabbo isn’t happy about it.
Making online casinos accessible to New Yorkers was a top priority for Addabbo in the state budget. He told Mike Mazzeo this isn’t the end of the push for online casinos in the Empire State, but the longer it’s prohibited, more money is fleeing to neighboring states and offshore gaming operators.
There is still a path for legalizing NY online casinos through the one-house budget via the Senate and Assembly, but it will be a difficult challenge.
“It doesn’t mean the end for the iGaming push. It’s not a good sign. But if we choose not to do it this year, every year we don’t do it, let’s face the facts … (it’s) money lost to the illegal market (and) lost to New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut because you know New Yorkers are participating in iGaming; and you can’t help them addiction-wise.”
Addressing problem gambling is paramount in NY online casino legalization
Of course, there is a lot of tax revenue to be made by the state if online casinos get the thumbs up. But preventing an uptick in problem gambling if iGaming goes live is a top priority for the state’s decision-makers.
In December, Addabbo told PlayNY:
“With iGaming, probably our biggest challenge — bigger than the downstate licenses, bigger than mobile sports betting — is the challenge of addiction with iGaming. I think it’s trickier, and therefore we’ll look to do more funds and more in-tune with OASAS (the Office of Addiction Services and Support) on how we address addiction even further.”
Addabbo said online casino exclusion from the executive budget won’t prevent problem gambling. He said he believes New Yorkers are still finding ways to play online casino games, whether it be through neighboring states or illegal markets.
Fewer funds are being earned to help problem gamblers by not legalizing online casinos in New York,
“If you don’t regulate it, you don’t even know who (suffers from problem gambling). And if you take into account the revenue we would’ve made, which covers around $2 billion that first year, then we’re looking at roughly $3 billion a year lost every year we don’t do iGaming, plus not helping with addiction.”
Problem gambling resources lacking in other markets
In December 2022, the National Council on Problem Gaming published a report on the measures being taken to combat gambling addiction in the seven states that legalized online casinos.
The NCPG found that Delaware, Michigan, Nevada and West Virginia failed to meet the required standards to provide resources for responsible gaming. While the NCPG isn’t able to legally mandate change, the report is certainly a bad look for gaming operators and state gaming commissions.
Ensuring problem gambling resources are in place is important for online casinos to be legalized in NY. But with many New Yorkers already partaking in online casino gaming, legalization would create more funding to address gambling addiction.