Addabbo Faces Opposition – Is New York Online Casino Doomed?

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Next year’s budget talks are expected to include a New York online casino proposal, and Sen. Joseph Addabbo will be its staunchest advocate. However, the Democrat from Howard Beach first needs to win reelection in order to do so.

In the Aug. 23 primary, Addabbo faces competition from candidates Albert Baldeo and Japneet Singh.

If unseated, Addabbo will have to vacate the office he’s held since 2008.

However, now that the married father of two’s Howard Beach home is no longer in his redrawn District 15 boundaries, he’s moved in with his mother, Grace Addabbo. That way, the man who attended an Ozone Park Catholic grade school remains within his new district, writes Hannah Vanbiber for NY Sports Day yesterday.

As for his opponents’ attitudes toward online casino, Vanbiber wrote for NY Sports Day yesterday:

Both challengers say they are pro-gaming and promise to support regulated gambling in the state.

This does seem to be the newcomer election challenge year. Incumbent Congresswoman Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, lost her Republican primary yesterday to challenger Harriet Hageman.

Illinois lost pro-gaming Rep. Michael J. Zalewski in June. Zalewski was defeated in the Democratic primary by Abdelnasser Rashid, who didn’t comment on his online casino stance for Bonus.com.

Now Addabbo faces two relative newcomers. Unusually, Baldeo also ran for an Assembly seat, but lost in June.

Addabbo didn’t immediately return a Bonus.com request for comment for this story.

What They Say About New York Online Casino

Addabbo was a primary voice behind legalizing New York online sports betting, which launched on Jan. 8. The following month, he sponsored SB 8412 to make New York online casino a reality. It failed this year, but Addabbo says he’s helping the New York State Legislature lay the groundwork to approve the bill next year.

To that end, Addabbo says lawmakers need to work on the three new downstate retail casino licenses and create a Problem Gambling Advisory Council (PGAC). Legislators approved bills to create that council (S.409A/A.658A) but haven’t yet delivered them to Gov. Kathy Hochul so she can sign them into law.

Vanbiber’s interview with Baldeo presents this simple stance from him:

If you don’t want to gamble, you don’t have to.

Singh is in favor of New York online casinos, according to Vanbiber’s interview:

I find that the tax restrictions are slightly too strict [for mobile sports betting] and make the playing field very uneven. I would not discard the good work of my predecessor. However, I am also a proponent of alternative streams of tax revenue, like finalizing the details of the MRTA (the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act), which the incumbent voted against. I would also propose that we invest this money into mental health services.

Is the Sportsbook Tax Too High?

New York taxes online sports betting operators at 51%.

Vanbiber quotes Addabbo:

Addabbo also said – and his Democratic challengers agree – that a focus needs to be on expanding the number of mobile sports betting operators. New York currently has nine, though Addabbo says the original bill that he and [Assemblyman] Gary Pretlow presented proposed between 14-21.

While the tax rate is the highest in the nation, online gambling operators want those New York slots. The current operators paid $25 million each for their licenses.

“If we can increase operators, decrease tax rate, and keep our revenue for education and services the same, we should be doing that,” Addabbo tells Vanbiber.

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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