Senate Gaming Committee Advances 5 Bills — But No Talk Of NY Online Casinos

Written By John Brennan on February 13, 2024 - Last Updated on February 15, 2024
View of New York Senate for a story on a Senate gaming committee advancing five bills but not discussing passage of NY online casino bill

The meeting of the New York State Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee on Tuesday was more notable for what was not on the agenda than were the five bills that all passed easily.

Other than state Sen. Pamela Helming telling committee chairman Joseph Addabbo Jr. before the formal voting process began that she thought that “iGaming was the next logical step” for the state, given the success of mobile sports betting, that hot-button issue was set aside for the rest of the succinct 10-minute committee hearing.

Addabbo still is seeking to bring legal, regulated New York online casinos to the state, after reintroducing his bill on the topic in the first week of January and then amending that bill a month later.

But Tuesday’s meeting did not have that bill on the agenda.

If not online casinos, what did Senate committee talk about?

Two bills related to New York horse racing funding, while another would require the state to leave NY Lottery winners anonymous unless they offered their consent to go public.

Another proposal aimed to balance free play allowance credits between retail casinos and video lottery terminal facilities, while yet another would allow minors to participate in bingo games if accompanied by an adult. None of the bills produced much discussion among the committee members.

Addabbo had hoped to gain organized labor support by adjusting his bill to require NY online casino license applicants to “produce an affidavit stating it shall enter into a labor peace agreement with labor organizations that are actively engaged in representing … gaming or hospitality industry workers.”

But Bhav Tibrewal, the political director of the powerful New York Hotel and Gaming Trades Council, recently told PlayUSA that he was skeptical that passage of Addabbo’s bill would lead to a net increase in union jobs.

Biggest hurdle for online casino legalization remains cannibalization concerns

In almost all of the seven states that have legalized online casino gaming, the biggest hurdle has been fear that adding so-called “iGaming” would harm casino revenue. That could then lead to layoffs by those casinos.

There is considerable evidence that such fears are unfounded, as analysis consistently has shown little overlap between brick-and-mortar casino visitors and mostly younger, more tech-savvy online casino gamblers.

The US poker industry also has a vested interest in the topic, as bringing highly populated New York into a multi-state consortium that includes players in neighboring states New Jersey and Pennsylvania would significantly boost the “liquidity” of the online poker marketplace.

That is, players would have a far easier time finding a sufficient number of rival players to challenge at virtually all times and price points.

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s decision not to include potential online casino gaming revenue in her recently-announced executive budget was a strong signal that Addabbo’s bill will not be seriously considered before the deadline for a final 2024 budget on April 1.

Photo by Hans Pennink / AP Photo
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John Brennan

John Brennan has been covering gambling-related issues for more than 20 years, having articles published in more than 20 US states. Brennan covered the NBA throughout the 1990s, mainly chronicling the New York Knicks' annual postseason near-misses, before switching to the News Department in 2002 as a Sports Business reporter. In 2008, Brennan and fellow writer Jeff Pillets were honored by the Pulitzer Prize committee as Finalists in the Local Reporting category for their extensive coverage of a doomed condo-and-golf project proposed for the Meadowlands landfills.

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