New York State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo approved a bill to further combat problem gambling in the state. The approved bill, S.409 and A.658A, would establish a NY Problem Gambling Advisory Council. The Council would identify issues and recommend specific treatment options for problem gambling.
As New York increases legalized gambling — launching mobile sports betting in January 2022 and discussing three new casinos in the NYC area – the state legislature is also working to make prevention and treatment for problem gambling more accessible.
“As co-sponsor of this bill and chair to the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, I am pleased that we are fulfilling a promise to provide additional resources and raise public awareness for problem gambling in our state,” Addabbo said.
The legalization of mobile sports betting brought higher than forecasted educational funds and revenue to our state, and the recent approval of downstate casino licenses will create jobs and additional resources, but this legislation demonstrates that we have not forgotten that we must prioritize problem gambling and address it in a timely, proactive manner.
What Does the Bill Say?
If the bill becomes law, casinos would make a $500 deposit for every slot machine or table game the commission approves. Those deposits would go to the Commercial Gambling Revenue Fund and specifically support problem gambling education and treatment.
The Problem Gambling Advisory Council would have 13 members. Members include the commissioner of the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASES), the chair of the Gaming Commission, and eleven additional members appointed by legislative leadership, including one appointed by the governor.
The council would be required to meet at least twice every year and develop strategies for combating problem gambling. The strategies can include recommendations for education around problem gambling, prevention, and treatment. The legislation also requires the council to explore the impact of mobile sports betting on problem gambling services and produce an annual report with findings and recommendations.
When Will the Bill be Signed Into Law?
With approval in the Senate, the bill now goes to the governor’s desk. If the governor signs it, the new law would take effect 180 days later.
Most bills involving the expansion of gaming in the state also support problem gambling initiatives. For example, bill S8412, which would authorize online interactive gaming, allocates $11 million in problem gambling education and treatment, nearly doubling the $6 million currently dedicated to gambling addiction.
New York also has a model in neighboring Pennsylvania, which publicly tracks its success in responding to problem gaming.
How Much of a Problem is Problem Gambling in NY?
OASES recently conducted a survey to answer that question.
The survey found that 5% of adults exhibited problem gambling behaviors in the past 12 months. A total of 10% of 7th through 12th graders also showed signs of problem gambling or needed treatment.
New York is one of 35 states that have legalized online gambling in some form.