New York State Senator Introduces iGaming Bill
This may sound like old news, as New York has seen igaming bills come and go for years on end…with no success. However, this is something different. State Senator Joseph Addabbo decided to add casino games to his bill, not restricting it to online poker.
Since online poker has had no success in New York to date, why not make it a total igaming bill with online casinos and poker?
Pretlow Started It
On January 17, New York Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow introduced A01380, a bill to legalize online poker and declare it a game of skill. Specifically, its summary read:
“To authorize the New York State Gaming Commission to license certain entities to offer for play to the public certain variants of internet poker which require a significant degree of skill, specifically ‘Omaha Hold’em’ and ‘Texas Hold’em.’”
The bill went to the Racing and Wagering Committee, which is where it still sits, untouched. It appears to be the same story as every other year, as this bill will fade from memory like so many others.
Addabbo Goes a Step Further
Most people in the industry knew that State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr would introduce a companion bill. That’s the way it’s been going for several years, taking over where now-retired Senator John Bonacic left off in 2018.
Weeks went by without a bill…until February 15. Addabbo introduced his bill S4856 on February 15, and it went to the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee on his side of the legislature.
The difference with this bill, however, was that it was not a companion bill to Pretlow’s online poker proposal. Instead, it was a full interactive gaming bill, “an act to amend the racing, pari-mutuel wagering and breeding law, in relation to interactive gaming.” To put it more succinctly:
“To authorize online interactive gaming in New York State.”
Three additional online igaming licenses will be available through a competitive bidding process.
$2 million license fee for eligible entities. Licenses valid for 10 years.
— RLinnehanXL (@RLinnehanXl) February 15, 2023
Addabbo’s justification for the bill noted that seven states offer igaming, including New York neighbors New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. And in 2021, New Jersey and Pennsylvania each generated about $120M in tax revenue for their respective government coffers. He continued:
“This year, in its first month of operation, New York quickly became the leading mobile sports betting market in the nation, generating nearly $70M in tax revenue in a single month. Similarly, if authorized, New York would quickly become the national leader in online casino gaming, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue annually for the state as it continues to recover from the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
He also noted that research has shown that New York would receive approximately $475M in annual tax revenue, and that number is on the conservative side. And the first year alone would deliver about $150M in licensing fees.
Is There a Chance?
It appears that Pretlow is on board with the idea of broadening the proposal from online poker to full online casino and poker action. And Pretlow will be submitting a new bill that will serve as the companion to Addabbo’s S4856.
NY online casino bill AB 3634 doesn't include the new language. Asm. Pretlow put the old iGaming bill in a refiling of previous legislation, confusing matters. But updated NY online casino language from Sen. Addabbo and Asm. Pretlow is still to come.
— Matthew Kredell (@MatthewKredell) February 4, 2023
It turns out that one of the reasons for the delay in Addabbo’s bill introduction was his efforts to work with New York Governor Kathy Hochul to put igaming in the new fiscal year budget for 2024. Since Hochul has never shied away from supporting gambling expansion, he tried to get it into the budget. It would have laid a clear path for legislation to move through the legislature.
When Hochul did reveal her budget proposal, igaming was not included. Addabbo wasn’t pleased. “If you take into account the revenue we would’ve made, which covers around $2B in the first year, then we’re looking at roughly $3B a year lost every year we don’t do igaming, plus not helping with addiction.” The last part of his statement referred to players traveling to gambling online in neighboring states but coming back to New York with gambling problems. And without new legislation, there is no money allocated to help New Yorkers with those gambling issues.
Sen. Addabbo: "Every year we don't do iGaming in NY, is losing roughly $4 billion." He mentions they used the same arguments for online sports betting going to the illegal market and other states.
— Ian St. Clair (@IanStClair) January 31, 2023
In an encouraging turn, Addabbo is not giving up easily this time. He indicated to Elite Sports New York that he will hold a roundtable meeting with lawmakers and industry members to discuss igaming and any possibilities to move it forward this year.
Addabbo noted that iGaming was not included in Hochul's budget proposal and its approval will be an uphill battle.
The next step? Addabbo said he'll be holding a roundtable in March to discuss the bill with lawmakers, industry experts, and media members.
— RLinnehanXL (@RLinnehanXl) February 16, 2023
This year, it appears that online poker – through a broader igaming lens – will not fall by the wayside without a serious push from Addabbo.