For New York online casino legalization to happen in 2023, officials must work on three items this year. So that’s what they’re doing.
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo tells NY Sports Day these matters are progressing:
- State lawmakers are using 2022 to monitor the success of online sports betting, which launched on Jan. 8
- Deciding which entities will receive three new downstate retail casino licenses
- Creating a Problem Gambling Advisory Council (PGAC)
Addabbo, D-Howard Beach, spoke to NY Sports Day on Aug. 10, just after attending an event at Resorts World New York, a retail casino in his home borough of Queens.
That entity’s mobile sportsbook is named Resorts World Bet, and Addabbo thinks they’ll also apply for one of the new retail casino licenses. The chairman of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Racing, Gaming, and Wagering believes the state may charge as much as $1 billion each for those licenses.
New York Online Casino Revenue May Beat Existing Records
Before they vote to legalize New York online casino gambling, legislators are measuring the success of online sports betting. The latter generated $302.3 million in tax revenue during its first six months.
Conversely, Hannah Vanbiber wrote for NY Sports Day on July 13:
- Pennsylvania generated $265.6 million in tax revenue since November 2018.
- New Jersey brought in $237.1 million since June 2018.
Considering online casinos tend to represent 70% of revenue in states with both legal online casinos and sports betting, New York will probably outpace the current large revenue generators if it legalizes online casino gambling in 2023.
Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania each generated more than $1 billion in gross gaming revenue during 2021.
Because lawmakers are watching these figures, New York online casino licenses may cost more than the $25 million each online sports betting operator paid to be in the current market.
3 Downstate Casino Licenses
However, state lawmakers aren’t the ones who will decide the license cost. Based on New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) guidelines, that will be the job of the Gaming Facility Location Board (GFLB).
Once the commission creates that board in a couple of months, its members’ tasks will likely include the ones listed on the NYSGC site:
- Work with the Commission to develop the application form
- Determine a gaming facility license fee
- Develop the criteria to assess which applications provide the highest and best value to the state, zone, and region
- Determine the sources and total amount of an applicant’s proposed capitalization to develop, construct, maintain, and operate a proposed gaming facility
- Issue detailed findings of facts and conclusions demonstrating the reasons supporting its decisions to select applicants
NYSGC’s records show the last time a board followed a siting process, it took about nine months to select gaming facility operators.
So while Addabbo will bring up online casino legalization in 2023, it must be included in 2024’s fiscal budget around April 2023. This year, that meant lawmakers had to decide on the proposed iGaming legislation by April 2022. That didn’t happen.
Therefore, if lawmakers want to wait until the GFLB is finished with its work, it may push an online casino bill vote into 2024.
However, Addabbo remains optimistic and talked to NY Sports Day about what he believes may be the final prerequisite.
Problem Gambling Advisory Council
Both New York State Legislature branches passed bills to create the PGAC before adjourning in June.
On July 18, Addabbo sent out a press release saying:
Mobile sports betting has already brought in more than $300 million in tax revenue and educational funds — more than any other state with mobile sports betting — and $6 million for new addiction programs. Although this is a great start, more needs to be done.
New York needs to “stay ahead of the curve” on problem gambling, he told NY Sports Day on Aug. 10.
Problem gambling existed in New York even before legal online sportsbooks launched, according to the bill sponsored by Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, D-Bronx. On Jan. 6, 2021, she proposed S.409A to create the PGAC.
Biaggi wrote in the PGAC bill:
A survey conducted by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) found that five percent of adults, or 668,000 individuals, exhibited problem gambling behaviors within the past year. Another survey of seventh- through twelfth-grade students revealed that ten percent, or 140,000 students, showed signs of problem gambling in the past 12 months and another ten percent of those students were in need of treatment for problem gambling. Of those students in the survey who were identified as in need of chemical dependency treatment, forty-five percent were at risk or in need of treatment for problem gambling.
After launching legal sports betting, calls to the 1-877-8-HOPENY hotline increased, Addabbo told NY Sports Day.
“But it wasn’t an outrageous increase,” he added.
However, state lawmakers improved services at the hotline and OASAS (now the Office of Addiction Services and Supports).
The press release quotes Addabbo:
We knew when we introduced mobile sports betting in New York that it would cause an increase in problem gambling issues, but we were prepared for that eventuality. We improved the OASAS services, enhanced outreach, and the free, confidential NYS HOPELINE, while building safeguards directly into the sports betting apps. By safely legalizing mobile sports betting in New York and thus not having our residents go to other states, we are now able to identify and help those with problem gambling issues and get them the services they require.
Still, Addabbo said PGAC should be in place before New York online casino gambling happens.
In other words, there’s still much more work to do before legalizing New York online casino gambling, but that work is starting.