Problem gambling is getting attention this year around the US. So the New York State Senate‘s unanimous approval on June 1 of SB6701, a bill creating a Problem Gambling Advisory Council (PGAC), fits that concept. However, now that it’s moving on to the Assembly, lawmakers may be looking ahead and hoping history doesn’t repeat itself if they approve it. Because in 2022, that PGAC bill’s only stopping point was Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul‘s veto.
By June 2, 2022, both chambers of the New York State Legislature approved that year’s bill – SB409. Then Hochul’s veto happened on Nov. 23, 2022.
State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., D-Ozone Park, told Bonus today there are five days left in Albany. So legislators need to be judicious about how they spend their remaining time. They need to determine what bills will be the most effective use of the remaining days, Addabbo said, avoiding any specific reference to a possible Hochul veto.
Addabbo told Bonus today:
It’s up to the Assembly now. We did our job.
The 2023 PGAC bill’s sponsor – state Sen. Nathalia Fernandez, D-Bronx – didn’t return repeated requests for comment from Bonus.
Problem Gambling Assistance Does Exist
Addabbo emphasized to Bonus that New Yorkers do already have avenues to seek help for problem gambling.
For instance, mobile sports betting provides $6 million a year. Putting that in perspective, Hochul’s statistics on New York’s first year of legal sportsbooks showed bettors wagered more than $16 billion.
So adding problem gambling resources could ideally prevent New Yorkers from becoming addicted to gambling, Addabbo said.
Gamblers have a lot of options in New York. The state already houses 31 casinos and is adding three more full licenses for downstate retail casinos. There’s a lottery, plus horse racing betting.
However, online poker and casino gambling aren’t yet legal. (Addabbo reminded Bonus today that his 2023 efforts to legalize iGaming included $12 million in problem gambling funds.)
Meanwhile, Hochul issued a statement on March 10 declaring it Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM). A meeting highlighting her announcement included representatives of the New York Responsible Play Partnership (NYRPP) – which includes the NYSGC, the Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS), and the New York Council on Problem Gambling (NYCPG). Also, New Yorkers have access to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), which is synonymous with the 1-(800)-GAMBLER hotline.
Previous PGAC Attempts
Lawmakers and regulators spent months saying they were concerned about problem gambling. They questioned why more hadn’t been done about it.
However, efforts to create a PGAC date back to 2015. This year’s bill is New York’s fifth.
SB6701’s justification is identical to that of the bill introduced on Feb. 4, 2019.
The justification for SB3103A reads, in part:
It is evident that there is a growing need to promote awareness of and access to problem gambling services. The development of a Problem Gambling Advisory Council will help to identify issues affecting those suffering from a problem gambling disorder and recommend ways to make prevention and treatment more accessible throughout the state.