Resorts World NYC Workers: Legal Online Casinos ‘Would Hurt’ Gambling Industry

Written By David Danzis on February 23, 2024
Image of Resorts World NYC, whose employees voiced their opposition against legalizing online casinos in New York

Although online casinos in New York are a long shot for 2024, workers at one Empire State racino are sounding the alarm that online gambling will be a job killer.

More than 700 employees from Resorts World New York City at Aqueduct Race Track in Ozone Park signed a letter directed at Sen. Joseph Addabbo, D-Queens, accusing the gambling-friendly politician of pushing a bill that would eliminate jobs.

Addabbo, chair of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, is the primary sponsor of legislation to legalize online casinos in NY.

“We find it appalling that you are pushing legislation that would hurt workers like us and our industry in order to benefit a handful of companies who are seeking massive profits at our expense,” the letter to Addabbo reads.

NY casino battle heating up on land, online

The Resorts World NYC employees are represented by the Hotel and Gaming Trades Council, an influential labor union in the greater New York City area. The trades council also represents employees at several other NY gambling facilities, including MGM Empire City in Yonkers, del Lago in Waterloo, Resorts World Catskills and Rivers Casino in Schenectady.

Resorts World NYC is not in Addabbo’s district, but it is close enough that there are undoubtedly casino employees who live in the area represented by the senator. Those workers and constituents say that if people are gambling online, they don’t have to go to the casino. And, if people aren’t going to casinos as much, it’s only a matter of time before the casinos eliminate jobs — their jobs.

The battle over online gambling in NY comes at a time when state gaming regulators are about to open the application process for three available downstate NY casino licenses. Resorts World NYC and Empire City are considered frontrunners for two of the licenses since converting the racinos into class III gaming facilities would not require much time or resources.

However, the prospect of as many as three new casinos in the NYC area is real, and the HTC would be in a position to represent thousands of new members in that scenario.

The union letter to Addabbo reads, in part:

“When customers come to a racino, VLT(video lottery terminal) parlor, or casino, they support all of our jobs, including cooks, bartenders, servers, maintenance workers, and hotel workers…We know that if, instead, they were to game from their homes, workplaces, or elsewhere, their dollars would go straight into the pockets of gaming companies, rather than to support the livelihoods of thousands of New Yorkers who support the state’s gaming industry.”

Is iGaming another gambling Golden Goose for Albany?

Addabbo  the union’s claim that online gaming will result in jobs being cut at brick-and-mortar casinos in NY. He says the iGaming bill sets aside $25 million annually for retail casino workers and online dealers would be part of the union.

The senator was the driving force behind legal sports betting in NY. Since launching online sports gambling in early 2022, NY has become the country’s largest legal market, generating over $1.55 billion in taxes for the state. Gov. Kathy Hochul lauded the industry’s contributions to “education, youth sports and problem gambling prevention.”

Addabbo says his NY online casino and online lottery legislation would duplicate the success of sports betting, essentially creating another $1 billion a year revenue stream for the state.

However, efforts to pass an online casino bill in Albany have proven more difficult for Addabbo and his counterpart, Assemb. Gary Pretlow, D-Mount Vernon. The two lawmakers have introduced legislation in their respective legislative chambers to legalize online casino and iLottery, but neither bill has moved.

Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos avoid this discussion

The discussion around whether online gaming “cannibalizes” the brick-and-mortar gaming industry has been a hot-button topic of late.

Recent reports from The Innovation Group and Eilers & Krecjik Gaming came to differing conclusions about the impact internet gambling has on retail facilities.

A peek across the Hudson River could provide clues for NY. Neighboring New Jersey is the oldest, most mature online gambling market in the country.

It is hard to draw definitive conclusions about iGaming’s impact in the Garden State because the 10-year period of legal online casinos in NJ is marred by five Atlantic City casino closures and the COVID-19 pandemic, both of which dramatically skew the data.

In the last three years, in-person gambling revenue at AC’s nine casinos has been relatively stagnant. At the same time, online gambling revenue in NJ has skyrocketed and is on pace to outperform Atlantic City casinos by the end of the year.

Photo by Kathy Kmonicek / AP Photo
David Danzis Avatar
Written by
David Danzis

David Danzis is a writer for PlayNY. A New Jersey native and honors graduate of Rutgers University, he served as a newspaper reporter for the New Jersey Herald and Press of Atlantic City, earning statewide awards for his coverage of politics, government, education, sports and business. Today, he contributes to New York's growing legal gambling landscape, including online sports betting and potential legalization of NY online casinos. David lives in Mays Landing with his wife and two children. When not on the beach, a golf course, or snowboarding, David enjoys watching his beloved New York sports teams — Yankees, Jets, Rangers and Knicks.

View all posts by David Danzis
Privacy Policy