Addabbo Believes Legal New York iGaming, iLottery Inevitable, Despite Continued Union Opposition

State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. told Bonus he’ll continue to advocate for legal New York online casinos, poker, and iLottery in 2024. The sponsor of SB8185 said so on April 24, despite Bonus mentioning that the iGaming and iLottery bill’s primary opponent — the retail casino workers union — remained against the proposed legislation.

Addabbo, D-Woodhaven, told Bonus on April 24:

You cannot stop technology.

What’s happening right now is New Yorkers are betting on illegal offshore online casinos or traveling out of state to gamble on legal sites there, he said.

All that means is New York is losing “billions” of dollars in tax revenue, as it did during the four years it waited to legalize mobile sports betting. (New York sportsbooks launched on Jan. 8, 2022, which was a few years after the May 2018 decision by the US Supreme Court that allowed states to offer legal sports betting.)

Addabbo said of iGaming:

Every year we don’t do it, we lose a lot of money. And we lose the opportunity of helping people.

By “helping people,” Addabbo means that once New York legalizes online casinos, state officials can more easily identify residents who need help with problem gambling.

As for tax dollars, sportsbooks have generated nearly $2 billion for New York coffers since launch, according to Legal Sports Report. Bonus and LSR are Catena Media publications.

Addabbo’s bill doesn’t imitate sports betting’s 51% tax rate. However, analysts tell him that the proposed 30.5% tax rate on online casino and poker operators could yield as much as $4 billion annually.

Bonus has found that states with legal online casinos and sportsbooks tend to see 70% of tax dollars arrive from iGaming and 30% from sports betting.

Retail Casino Workers Union Opposes iGaming

SB8185 and its companion measure, AB9198, have a powerful enemy.

Leaders at the Hotel and Gaming Trades Council (HTC) are steadfastly against creating legal New York online casinos. HTC officials say iGaming will pull market share from land-based casinos, thereby reducing revenue and costing many of their retail casino worker members their jobs.

HTC Political Director Bhav Tibrewal told Bonus on April 23:

The answer … is a simple ‘No.’

Many New York iGaming and iLottery advocates attribute HTC opposition with preventing online casino legalization so far in 2024. The iGaming and iLottery bill wasn’t included in the $237 billion state budget that contains bills Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul will most likely sign into law.

While that union opposition was public record before lawmakers approved the state budget, Addabbo told Matthew Kredell of PlayUSA on April 23 that he would renew his outreach to HTC. Bonus and PlayUSA are Catena Media publications.

So far, Addabbo and Tibrewal have told Bonus that they agree that HTC hasn’t embraced that outreach.

Be More Productive With Your Feedback

Addabbo added to Bonus on April 24 that a ” ‘no’ is ‘no’ ” answer isn’t productive.

What would be productive is for HTC officials to tell him about a retail casino emergency fund figure that works for them. As it is, Addabbo’s online casino bill provides a $25 million state fund “that entities can opt into” so they can receive money that would ideally prevent layoffs in the event of iGaming cannibalizing retail casino revenue. Kredell reports that the state fund could be filled with as much as $40 million annually should HTC negotiate with Addabbo.

Addabbo emphasized to Bonus that he believes retail casinos will benefit from legal online casino and poker. The union would also gain about 1,000 members from new jobs created by iGaming live dealer studios.

So, the emergency fund would mainly provide confidence to those worried about the future.

After all, Addabbo added, Resorts World New York City is in his Queens district, and its workers are his constituents.

Addabbo asked Bonus:

So, why would I jeopardize those jobs?

If I thought iGaming would jeopardize those jobs, why would I push it?

Meanwhile, Addabbo said he agrees with union leaders that it will be fantastic to add thousands of new jobs when the downstate retail casinos are built. However, the process of awarding three new casino licenses is moving so slowly that those new retail casino jobs may be years away.

Why Addabbo Still Hopes SB8185 Passes

Addabbo told Bonus that on May 6, when the New York State Senate reconvenes in Albany, he will bring up next year’s expected deficit. Legalizing iGaming and iLottery in 2024 would help offset the projected fiscal shortfall in 2025, he said. That’s when the marketplace would launch, bringing in license fees and betting revenue.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) would need the funding immediately. However, he’s open to other suggestions.

Regardless of how lawmakers decide to divide up the revenue, Addabbo tells Bonus he believes legislators could work with him to create an exemplary iGaming marketplace.

Addabbo told Bonus:

We have the opportunity of being the model for the country.

However, getting New York lawmakers to approve iGaming and iLottery before the legislature adjourns on June 6 will be quite a lift. It’s an accomplishment that no other state has completed so far in 2024.

Meanwhile, Addabbo reiterated to Bonus that iGaming is inevitable. If it doesn’t pass during this session, he’ll continue to advocate for legal New York online casinos throughout 2024 and beyond.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is Lead Writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She specializes in breaking news, legislative coverage, and gambling marketing strategy overviews. To reach Heather with a news tip, email [email protected].
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