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Addabbo Will Try Union One More Time Before Giving Up On New York Online Casino

Written By Matthew Kredell | Updated:
Sen. Joe Addabbo

New York Sen. Joe Addabbo has one more card he wants to play for legalizing online casino in 2024.

Entering the year, Addabbo said New York online casino’s only chance for passage was through the state budget. Over the weekend, New York legislators approved a state budget that, as expected, did not include iCasino.

Following the budget exclusion, Addabbo told PlayUSA he wants to make one more plea to Rich Maroko, president of the New York Hotel and Gaming Trades Council.

Addabbo’s pitch is to work with the council to come up with a plan to address its cannibalization concerns that can be replicated in other states. Hotel Trades is part of the nationwide AFL-CIO.

“I want to get together with the Hotel Trades Council and figure out a national model for how we can have iGaming and not cannibalize their brick-and-mortar casinos. We just need to have some initiative and get creative with the language.”

If the union dropped its opposition, which is a big if, Addabbo thinks a New York online casino effort can materialize quickly.

However, Addabbo admits he doesn’t even know if he’ll get a conversation with the union leader in the next six weeks before the New York legislative session ends June 6.

Union has been unreceptive to Addabbo’s overtures

Previously, the state senator expressed frustration to PlayUSA that HTC refuses to negotiate on iGaming.

This year in online casino bill SB8185, Addabbo added a $25 million fund for casino workers to appease the council’s concerns.

However, a Hotel Trades official told PlayUSA that the fund was “putting bells and whistles on a job killer.”

Addabbo asked the union to give him a number that works, hinting that the state could go up to $40 million. However, Hotel Trades expressed no intention to negotiate on New York online casino this year.

Addabbo believes that online casinos will eventually spread across the nation. So if the union wants it done in a certain way to protect brick-and-mortar casino jobs not just in New York but nationally, he says it should work to develop a New York model that can be replicated in other states.

“I really want to put away all of those studies and work with the Hotel Trades Council,” Addabbo said. “I want to be the model for other states that shows iGaming can actually help brick-and-mortar casinos when done right.”

Addabbo hopes for faster New York downstate casino licensing

In January, Hotel Trades political director Bhav Tibrewal told PlayUSA that the union didn’t want to discuss iCasino while the state was in the process of awarding three downstate casino licenses.

In 2022, legislators and Gov. Kathy Hochul included in the state budget language to expedite downstate casino licenses, lifting a 2023 moratorium a year early.

However, the New York State Gaming Commission has indicated it might not award the licenses until the end of 2025 or later.

Addabbo said he would like to see the commission award downstate casino licenses by next March, the end of the fiscal year.

Completing the downstate casino licensing process could help clear the path for the discussion to move to iCasino.

“To wait until the end of 2025 or into 2026 is not what the legislature intended when we expedited downstate licenses by one year,” Addabbo said. “We’ve got to figure out moving up the timeframe.”

Addabbo will push legislation for online sports betting changes

Addabbo has long known that online casinos wouldn’t make the state budget. The Senate didn’t even include iGaming in its budget proposal.

But two other gaming changes the Senate did include at Addabbo’s behest were also left out of the budget.

One would have added performance-based in-game and season-long prop bets and awards futures to permissible online sports wagers.

The other looked to increase problem gambling funding from $6 million to 1% of online sports betting tax revenue. Last year, New York generated $862 million in online sports betting tax revenue. So the change could put a couple extra million toward problem gambling each year. The language specifies that the funding wouldn’t go under $6 million.

With both proposals not making the budget, Addabbo said he will push individual bills for passage this session. Prop bets are in SB8777 and problem gambling revenue in SB8439.

The Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee that Addabbo chairs passed SB8439 by a 6-0 vote in March. The bill also includes 1% of online sports betting revenue for youth sport activities in the first year.

The problem gambling funding bill has a better chance of passing because Addabbo said it had support from the Senate and Assembly. He said the governor nixed it from the budget.

“My understanding is it was kicked out of the budget because the governor did not want to take away from education, which is laughable to me,” Addabbo said. “Education money will continue to go up as mobile sports betting revenue goes up. But who wouldn’t want more money for gambling addiction and youth sports? Hopefully the governor will sign the bill if we pass it.”

Photo by Alex Weldon/PlayUSA
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Matthew Kredell

Matthew Kredell serves as senior lead writer of legislative affairs involving online gambling at PlayUSA. He began covering efforts to legalize and regulate online gambling in 2007 after federal passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act disrupted his hobby of playing small-stakes online poker. He has since interviewed more than 300 lawmakers around the country and written extensively about online gambling legislation. He has led coverage of bills to legalize online gambling in most states. A lifelong Angeleno and USC journalism alum, Matthew started his career working as a sportswriter for a decade at the Los Angeles Daily News. He has written on a variety of topics for Playboy Magazine, Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and

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