New York online casino did not make the Senate and Assembly one-house budgets, effectively killing its chances for 2023.
Asm. Gary Pretlow told PlayUSA that he didn’t even include iGaming in his budget letter from the Racing and Wagering Committee.
Sen. Joe Addabbo tried to push for New York online casino legalization in the Senate budget as a solution to fill future Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) funding in the executive budget.
But Addabbo told PlayUSA that he’s tired of being the only one fighting for legal New York online casinos. And while it’s still possible to legalize iGaming as a standalone bill after the budget process, Addabbo says it’s not happening this year.
“I’m not going to be the only one talking about it. I threw it out there. Everyone knows it’s doable. If no one else wants to do it this year, that’s fine. I’m not going to pound the drum for it anymore.”
The New York legislative chambers will vote on their one-house budgets Thursday. They have until April 1 to then finalize New York budget details with Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Why New York online casino didn’t gain support
Pretlow laid out three issues that held back New York online casino this year:
- The New York Hotel & Gaming Trades Council lobbied hard against it for cannibalization concerns.
- Indian tribes aren’t clear on the federal laws for them to offer online gaming off tribal lands.
- A prolonged downstate casino license process.
Many of these issues were discussed last week at a roundtable discussion hosted by Addabbo, who filed New York online casino bill S 4856.
“We could address every issue brought up for iGaming,” Addabbo said. “It’s nothing that we cannot do this year. But I can’t be the only one, so if you don’t want to do it then we won’t do it.”
Pretlow and Addabbo said that the Hotel & Gaming Trades Council lobbied hard against New York online casino. The hotel workers union fears that iGaming could cost jobs at brick-and-mortar casinos.
“The casino operators say they don’t have any fear at all of cannibalization and they’re the ones who would be cannibalized,” Pretlow said. “So if they don’t have an issue with it, I don’t see how Hotel Trades can have an issue with it. But they will always have a seat at the table, so if they have issues that could be something that slows it down if not stops it.”
Addabbo said that live dealers with studios located in New York would create 2,000 new jobs.
“We offered Hotel Trades assurances that their current workforce of casinos is not going to be cannibalized,” Addabbo said. “There were studies done for Indiana, Jersey, and Spectrum even did one for New York. There’s no proof of cannibalization in these states. Brick-and-mortar revenue has even gone up with iGaming.”
Will New York online issues carry into next year?
With many interested parties lobbying hard for three available downstate casino licenses, the process could go on for years. Could that also delay New York online casino for years?
“Downstate casinos and iGaming are separate tracks and separate products,” Addabbo said. “Their only connection is that downstate casinos could have access to iGaming. The Gaming Commission could say we’re focusing on downstate casinos so we don’t want to focus on iGaming. But I believe in the wherewithal and professionalism of the Gaming Commission to do both.”
Pretlow said that he previously planned to settle the downstate casino licenses before iGaming but has changed his mind.
“With the likelihood of downstate casinos taking a long time, I’m abandoning that thought and looking for a more rapid expansion of iGaming,” Pretlow said. “I don’t want to say iGaming is years away. I don’t know where it will fall.”
In the executive budget, Hochul included revenue from downstate casinos going to the MTA in 2026. But it’s not looking like downstate casinos will be producing revenue by then. So Addabbo proposed that online casino could fill that void. It could be an argument he makes again next year.
“Maybe next year when we’re still in a recession or not getting billions from the federal government, people will realize we need revenue and remember that someone mentioned iGaming,” Addabbo said. “I’ll start pounding the drum for iGaming again ahead of the next budget. Every year we don’t do iGaming, we’re losing $1 billion.”