New York Lawmaker Wants iGaming This Year

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New York Lawmaker Wants iGaming This Year
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If iGaming is legalized in New York, the tax revenue would help the cash-strapped state and online casinos would create jobs, says state Sen. Joseph Addabbo.

Addabbo plans to introduce an iGaming bill again this legislative session, possibly as early as next week, he told on Friday. The Democrat from Queens is chairman of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering.

Addabbo has sought to legalize iGaming before, but the budget deficit points again to the need for revenue lost to bordering states with legal iGaming, he said. Those states are Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Online gaming also is legal in Delaware, West Virginia and Michigan.

The senator said New York is losing $1 billion a year to iGaming states, where users can legally download an app to play the games found on a traditional casino floor. These games include slots, craps, blackjack and more.

Currently, some iGaming customers in New York also are going online to illegal sites, he noted.

Addabbo said he is hopeful iGaming will win approval this session in Albany but added he is aware of the challenges in securing votes for “something of this magnitude.” The session began Wednesday in Albany and is set to end June 6.

“I’m always optimistic,” the senator said, “but I can’t do it alone. Everyone has to say, ‘Let’s stop losing $1 billion a year.’"

Another benefit is that online casinos would create 1,000 jobs for New York iGaming dealers, he said.

“I see the gaming industry as a job creator,” Addabbo said.

The senator’s iGaming measure this session will have some of the same components as in the past but will be assigned a new bill number, he said.

New York Budget Deficit In The Billions

With New York facing a $4.3 billion budget shortfall for the fiscal year 2024, Gov. Kathy Hochul, also a Democrat, is scheduled to deliver the State of the State address on Tuesday, outlining her priorities. It is unclear whether gaming expansion will come up.

Addabbo said her support for online casinos would be important. She has previously praised the tax revenue that legal mobile sports betting brings in.

'Not A Matter Of If, But When'

Across the country, some casino operators oppose iGaming.

One concern is that brick-and-mortar casinos would receive only a small percentage of revenue from iGaming operators.

A related concern is that customers will stay home playing casino games online inside of going inside a resort to gamble and spend money on entertainment, food and other amenities.

However, Addabbo said he wants an iGaming law in New York that would allow brick-and-mortar casinos to offer incentives such as food and entertainment giveaways to iGaming customers.

In the past, Addabbo told the legalization of iGaming in New York is "not a matter of if, but when."

The senator said iGaming can be expected to bring in more tax money for state projects than mobile sports betting. Last year in New York, mobile sports betting generated more than $861 million in tax revenue.

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Larry Henry

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