Sen. Joe Addabbo introduced a bill Thursday to authorize iGaming in New York.
If passed, iGaming offerings would include any slot or table game (blackjack, roulette, poker) suitable for online use as determined by the New York State Gaming Commission. The act would also take effect immediately.
“It’s a starting point,” Addabbo told PlayNY.
Highlights of the bill include:
- Two online skins for each license holder, composed of casinos and tribes
- 25% tax rate (promotional play deductible)
- Master license fees will cost $2 million (plus $10 million for each online skin)
- $11 million in additional funding for gambling addiction
- Casinos will house servers
Online casino bill introduced in New York
The bill — 8412 — projects that New York would receive an estimated $475 million annually in tax revenue, plus $150 million in one-time licensing fees from casinos, operators and independent contractors looking to conduct business in the state.
“That’s the potential that a New York population and fan base brings,” Addabbo said of the massive numbers. “The potential is there.”
Seven states — including neighboring New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut — have authorized interactive gaming that includes online casinos. Last year, iGaming revenues exceeded $1 billion in both NJ and PA. That generated around $120 million in tax revenues for each state.
Read more: Assemblyman Plans To Join Senator In Push For Online Casinos In New York
As of now, New Yorkers can only play casino games in-person at the four upstate commercial and other tribal casinos.
Legal online sports betting in New York launched Jan. 8, leading to $2.81 billion in handle through Feb. 20 and $91.4 million in tax revenue for the state. New York sportsbooks pay a US-high 51% tax rate and also have promotional play taxed. The regulations for iGaming are very different.
“It’s a different animal,” Addabbo replied when asked about the differences between online sports betting and iGaming.
“I don’t think (adjusting the 51% tax rate) is going to be spoken of any time soon,” Addabbo said, though the senator added he would be potentially amenable to a conversation about not taxing promotional deductions for online sports betting down the road.
Will NY online gambling bill pass?
Addabbo is generally an optimist, though he didn’t sound overly confident that the iGaming bill would pass this legislative session. The NYS budget is due April 1.
“I was a betting man, who knows,” Addabbo said. “What we should do certainly, minimally, is start the conversation and see where it goes from there. I’m more optimistic and appreciative of the Gov. Hochul Administration that’s at least willing to talk about these issues.”
Addabbo and State Assembly counterpart Gary Pretlow continue to be aggressive in expanding gaming in the state following the Jan. 8 launch of online sports betting. And a bill to expand sports betting to include fixed-odds horse racing on the apps and in-arena/stadium/racetrack kiosks has advanced to the senate finance committee.
Local policymakers also continue to work on green-lighting three downstate casinos, which would potentially generate $2 billion in licensing fees. That includes the possibility of video lottery terminals (VLTs) Resorts World NYC (Queens) and MGM Empire City (Yonkers) becoming full casinos.
Addabbo said the intent is to have NY online poker included in the iGaming bill, “but if I find out that it needs clarification, by all means, I’ll clarify that. But it’s ‘online table games’ and poker is a table game.”
Election year also presents hurdle for passage
The bill could face opposition in what is a state election year.
“Some people may shy away from it because it’s an election year, some people may embrace it more because it means educational funds,” Addabbo said. “That’s politics of it all. But I don’t see it as politics.
“We have New Yorkers who are probably doing online gaming right now — unsafely and illegally. And I use the same discussion with mobile sports betting: If you really want to help a New Yorker who might have an addiction, you can’t because right now when they’re doing online poker or online gaming, roulette, blackjack illegally.”
By expanding online gaming with regulatory bounds, individuals who gamble illegally not only have a safer outlet for the entertainment vertical, but they also have more resources for help.
“You regulate it with all the safeguards in place and all the additional money and guess what? You can by far help a New Yorker who might have an addiction problem by regulating it in New York.
“I’m open to any conversation or amendment that would improve the bill. It’s a starting point. We’ll see how it materializes over the next four weeks. Let’s see what happens.”