Sen. Joseph Addabbo Lays the Foundation for 2023 Online Casino Push in NY

New York lawmakers are laying the groundwork to legalize online casino gambling in 2023.

In the latest move to spur the New York online casino effort along, Sen. Joseph Addabbo sent a press release yesterday to emphasize that a bill creating the Problem Gambling Advisory Council (PGAC) is only awaiting Gov. Kathy Hochul‘s signature before it becomes law.

Both New York State Legislature branches passed S.409A/A.658A, with senators taking the most recent action on June 2.

Addabbo’s announcement 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.

Keeping an Eye on 2023 iGaming

This effort to create a PGAC aligns with what Addabbo, D-Howard Beach, told Bonus.com‘s Heather Fletcher when she was the lead writer for Online Poker Report.

Addabbo said in April that his proposal to legalize online casino gambling failed because he’d proposed it too soon after online sportsbooks launched.

The head of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Racing, Gaming, and Wagering sponsored SB 8412.

Regarding the failure in April, he said:

We basically started a little too late with iGaming this year.

New York online sports betting launched on Jan. 8. Addabbo sponsored an iGaming bill on Feb. 24.

He added in April:

What it does is it sets a foundation … in preparation for next year.

However, some legislators aren’t content to wait around.

As Addabbo said to OPR, lawmakers are spending 2022 measuring the success of online sports betting, deciding who will receive three new retail casino licenses, and trying to create a PGAC.

That work may make legalizing online casino and online poker easier next year. However, Addabbo told Fletcher in April that he’s also interested in New York joining the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA).

The Proposed Problem Gambling Advisory Council

Understandably not the top headline of Jan. 6, 2021, Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, D-Bronx, introduced S.409A.

Then the bill to create the PGAC sat in the Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse until March 1, 2021. After amendments and readings, senators approved the measure on June 2, 2022.

That’s when Biaggi, who is running for Congress, simply retweeted the Senate’s post about the bill passing.

Nearly a month later, Addabbo added far more commentary when he sent journalists yesterday’s announcement. In it, he noted that he’s one of the co-sponsors of the proposed legislation.

He said:

The Problem Gambling Advisory Council will make findings and recommendations to the governor and legislature on how to prevent and treat problem gambling in New York. The council will consist of 13 members including the commissioner of OASAS, the chair of the Gaming Commission, and 11 additional members.

… The council will develop and recommend strategies to ensure availability and access to problem gambling programs and resources, including information and resources regarding the prevention of problem gambling, for individuals throughout the state. They will examine the impact of mobile sports betting on problem gambling services, including whether there was an increase in the number of calls placed to the problem gambling HOPEline or outreach to local problem gambling resource centers, the need for additional staffing, or whether there was an increase in the number of individuals placing themselves on the list of self-excluded persons at gaming facilities.

The State of Problem Gambling Help

If Hochul approves creating the PGAC, it may become a unique resource in the US.

Most of the work to help problem gamblers falls to national or local nonprofits.

In April, the Kentucky General Assembly adjourned without voting on HB 609, which would’ve instituted Kentucky’s first responsible gambling (RG) program.

Unlike New York, Kentucky hasn’t yet approved online sportsbooks. Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, sponsors bills yearly to legalize online sports betting and online poker.

Koenig proposed using the $225 million deposited into the general fund from the PokerStars settlement. He wanted to use it to not only establish Kentucky’s first RG program, but make it the national leader.

In February, Koenig tweeted:

What better use of that money than to put it to problem gaming?

While the House approved Koenig’s proposal in March, the measure stalled in the Senate.

Meanwhile, New York council creation awaits the governor’s signature. If she signs the bill into law, the PGAC can begin forming in 180 days.

Next year begins in 187 days.

So the clock is ticking for the PGAC to be in place, building the foundation for online casino gambling legislation to proceed in 2023.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is the lead writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She had her first published byline at age 10, but didn't get paid for her writing until she got her first newspaper job. Fletcher's newspaper career started at Suburban News Publications in Ohio and eventually took her to The New York Times, where she's still a contract freelance reporter for the National Desk. She covers breaking news from Philadelphia, as needed. In March 2021, Fletcher began writing about online casino gambling as the lead writer for Online Poker Report.

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