New York Sen. Joe Addabbo said he believes he has a solution to help the state pass online casino legislation in 2024.
Addabbo told PlayUSA that he and Asm. Gary Pretlow are considering including a $25 million fund for brick-and-mortar casino workers in gaming legislation next year.
The money is meant to appease the New York Hotel & Gaming Trades Council, which lobbied heavily against online casino last year citing cannibalization concerns for resort casino workers.
“That’s $25 million a year in an effort to show or to ensure there will be no cannibalization of brick-and-mortar casinos,” Addabbo said. “This is to help the brick and mortars who suffered greatly in COVID. It’s not our intent to cause cannibalization or a loss of jobs. We only want to grow union jobs and we will work to ensure it.”
Wooing the NY casino union workers
The New York legislators said the opposition from the influential union posed the biggest roadblock to online casino passage last year.
Addabbo said he hasn’t yet gotten the union’s feedback on whether the $25 million fund would gain their support.
“Right now, it’s a discussion with my legal counsel and communications director,” Addabbo said. “But it’s a direct result of thinking about what we can do to address their concerns and promote the notion that this is a job-growth industry in New York.”
Addabbo also aims to convince the union that online casino will create more jobs with live-dealer positions. He visited Atlantic City in the past month to view their live-gaming operations.
“We will actually increase the amount of union jobs because those live dealers and studio workers have to be union jobs according to the statute language we have drafted,” Addabbo said. “Those union jobs can be anywhere in New York. That should hopefully please the Hotel Trades Council.”
Addabbo said brick-and-mortar casino owners and operators love the idea of iGaming.
“They can offer cross-promotional products, attracting online customers by saying here’s a free spin over at our brick-and-mortar casino, or whatever it may be. That’s where it helps the brick-and-mortar casinos. And once it helps the brick-and-mortar casinos, there will be no cannibalization or attrition of jobs.”
Online casino language planned for NY state budget
Online casino didn’t get serious consideration in New York last year.
But the state’s worsening financial forecast means it will be looking for new streams of revenue. The state comptroller projects a $9.1 billion budget deficit for the next fiscal year.
Addabbo said his online casino bill also will include online lottery, and the pairing should bring more than $1 billion annually to state coffers.
“Without help from the federal government, which I just don’t see, drastic cuts in service or casually raising taxes, iGaming and iLottery are a way to raise a billion dollars,” Addabbo said.
Addabbo plans to have the online casino language done before January, when Gov. Kathy Hochul will release her executive budget. He hopes to get the governor to mention online casino revenue, which would kickstart discussions for its inclusion in the final budget, due April 1.
“I certainly would love for the governor to say, ‘We look forward to exploring the possibility of iGaming and iLottery in New York,’” Addabbo said. “If she does that in January, then February and March are for working out the details.”