A bill in New York that aimed to establish a Problem Gambling Advisory Council (PGAC) has stalled in the state Assembly after being approved by the state Senate. The bill’s future is now uncertain, but it’s likely dead. Although the state Legislature may reconvene in the summer to address pending matters, it is unclear if this bill will be included.
Proponents of the bill say that as New York’s gambling industry expands and concerns about problem gambling rise, the need for prevention and treatment measures becomes more important. The establishment of a PGAC would aim to improve access to prevention and treatment services throughout the state. It would add to existing resources such as hotlines and the New York Responsible Play Partnership.
It’s Not the First Time PGAC Has Fallen Short
This year marks the fifth time lawmakers have introduced a PGAC bill in New York since 2015. The latest setback is the second in the past year. In June 2022, a proposal passed the Senate and House. However, Governor Katy Hochul vetoed it, citing cost concerns.
There likely won’t be a PGAC in the immediate future. But New Yorkers have other tools to help with gambling problems, such as the state’s Responsible Play Partnership (RPP). RPP comprises the New York State Gaming Commission, the New York State Office on Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, and the New York Council on Problem Gambling.
Some of RPP’s duties are to ensure that operators adhere to all rules and regulations and provide access to help for those with gambling problems. New Yorkers seeking help can also access the 1 (800)-GAMBLER national hotline or 1-877-8-HOPENY state hotline. Furthermore, a self-exclusion support program enables New Yorkers to enroll and temporarily refrain from gambling voluntarily.
Supporters Say Gambling Expansion Necessitates PGAC
One of the biggest reasons lawmakers cite to create a PGAC is the increased amount of gambling options in New York. The Empire State launched sports betting in January 2022, which was an instant hit. The state is the largest to have legal sports betting. And it recently surpassed $1 billion in lifetime tax revenue, making it the first state to reach that milestone.
State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. has also been working hard to legalize online casinos in New York. While his 2023 bill died in March, he will most likely introduce a new bill for 2024.
With so many people gambling, proponents of a PGAC say there is a need for more responsible gaming tools and initiatives. Across the U.S, problem gambling is rising, and New York is no exception.
New York doesn’t have to look far to find such tools and initiatives. New Jersey recently introduced more tools to address problem gambling. This included the creation of a Responsible Gaming Coordinator to handle the increase in gambling in the state.
While sports betting is quite popular, it’s not the only gambling option for New Yorkers. The state has over 25 casinos and racinos. There are also plans for three downstate casinos close to New York City.
Three Downstate Casinos Could Attract Millions
Among the biggest news in New York’s gambling scene is the New York State Gaming Commission’s decision to issue three downstate casino licenses. It will cost licensees at least $1 billion in licensing fees and to build the casinos. However, the potential revenue is enormous. Some estimates show a possible annual revenue of $2 billion. The future casinos will be in or around New York City, likely attracting millions of visitors. The interest from license bidders is high, with proposed sites including famous locations like Times Square and Penn Station.
Once the casinos open, there will be an influx of players, many of which could be first-time gamblers. That’s among the reasons New York may need to consider more tools, such as a PGAC, to address problem gambling.