Following the launch of online sports betting in New York on Saturday, January 8, some NY lawmakers are eyeing legislation that would allow up to three casinos in the New York City area.
Assembly Committee on Gaming and Wagering chairman J. Gary Pretlow told the New York Post that, “Issuing full gaming casino licenses downstate has moved to the top of my agenda.”
Both Genting’s Resorts World at Aqueduct race track and MGM’s Empire City at Yonkers Raceway would likely be preferred for two of three gaming casino licenses that lawmakers are seeking to pass in 2022. Currently, those venues can only offer slots-style video lottery terminal games from the New York Lottery. The online casino action that Pretlow is advocating allows players to play popular games like Slots, blackjack, baccarat, roulette, and poker.
Online Sports Betting Debuted in New York Over The Weekend
All signs point to a successful opening weekend for mobile sports betting in New York, with four operators going live Saturday morning: DraftKings NY, Caesars NY, FanDuel NY, and BetRivers NY. For the first time, New Yorkers can legally bet on sports from their mobile devices or the internet at home. Now, Pretlow and other elected officials see great opportunities for revenue through online casinos.
Revenue Drives Support of Casinos in New York
Joe Addabbo, the Chairman of New York’s Senate Gambling Committee, cites revenue and convenience as reasons to move quickly on the issue of online casinos in the state. Addabbo estimates that online casino licenses might fetch as much as $750 million for New York’s treasury. Genting’s Resorts World and MGM’s Empire City both already have the technology and capability to operate an online casino. Waiting any longer could risk licensing revenue and tax monies to neighboring states that allow online casinos, like New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Pretlow and Addabbo both support looking at placing a casino with online casino licensing in or near New York City. Such a move could make New York as much of a gambling destination as any city in the U.S. east of Nevada. Both lawmakers cite lost jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic as reasons to consider new projects to employ thousands in their state. Previously, the Shinnecock Indian Nation in Long Island also expressed interest in building a casino.
The NYS Gaming Commission has reportedly issued requests to operators who may be interested in being licensed as casino operators in the Empire State. Bally’s, Hard Rock International, Las Vegas Sands Corp., Rush Street Gaming, UE Resorts, and Wynn Resorts, as well as the previously mentioned Resorts World at Aqueduct and MGM’s Empire Center in Yonkers, have responded with interest.
Other States Considering Online Casinos
New York is not the only state pondering online casinos as a new item to their gaming menu: both Illinois and Iowa are looking at such measures.
In Illinois, gamblers can currently only take part in sweepstakes-style online games like Funzpoints Casino and purchase tickets via the Illinois Lottery Online. Legislators in the state are pushing for online casinos as well as physical casino locations in Chicago, which could team with Illinois online casino licenses for both in-person and digital betting.
In Iowa, lawmakers are split on the issue of online casinos, though mobile sports betting is thriving in the state. According to Radio Iowa, “the legislature does not expect to debate the issue of online casinos in 2022,” but it could happen. Like Illinois, Iowa offers online lottery sales and the “casino-style” sweepstakes offering Funzpoints Casino is also available.