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Potential Special Session Could Mean More Discussion On New York Online Casinos

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul may call a special session of the legislature for 2024, opening the door for the revival of online casino bills.

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Photo by AP Photo/Hans Pennink
Derek Helling Avatar
3 mins read

Like the end of a movie that intentionally creates doubt about whether the antagonist has truly been vanquished, setting up a sequel, the ultimate fate of online casino legislation for 2024 in New York may not yet be settled. A possible decision from New York Gov. Kathy Hochul might revive the conversation.

Funding issues for the state-operated Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) could bring lawmakers back to Albany at Hochul’s behest. While that is no guarantee that bills to legalize online casino play would see any movement in a special session even if the session does happen, the circumstances could align in that way.

Hochul might call legislators back to finish job

When New York’s government began its regular legislative session for 2024 in January, designating funds for infrastructure projects related to the MTA were among the foremost priorities. The MTA is most well known for operating New York City’s subway system although it has other concerns.

However, that session ended in June without final action on a number of proposals on that issue. According to Dick Brennan, Katie Houlis, and Marcia Kramer of CBS News New York, New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins explained that the Democrat “conference was not comfortable within the time frame to commit to” plans like a payroll tax for businesses.

That trio also report that the funding gap stood at about $15 billion at that time. With the legislature adjourned until 2025, further action this year falls upon Hochul.

The New York constitution gives her the power to call legislators back as long as she designates specific purposes for doing so. Jon Campbell of Gothamist reports that Hochul has “raised the possibility of lawmakers returning” to address the MTA funding issue.

While that puts myriad situations into play, not all of the possibilities are likely. It’s difficult to read the room on the chances for online casino legalization currently.

Online casino bills’ progress in 2024

The subject of whether New York would legalize online casino play in 2024 got some discussion, but nowhere near sufficient to actually enact such a statute. Obstacles included the state’s gambling industry focusing on the downstate brick-and-mortar commercial casino licensing process and resistance from workers at New York’s physical casinos.

The most vocal advocate of online casino expansion, New York Sen. Joseph Addabbo, tried to broker a deal with casino workers in his proposal. That opposition remained staunch, however.

That seems unlikely to change even if Hochul does call a special session. Casino workers unions have expressed a fear that legal online casino play in the state would hurt brick-and-mortar casinos’ bottom lines and thus compromise the job security of their members.

Additionally, the matter of the outstanding licensing for up to three physical non-tribal casinos in the southern part of the state is still looming. At the same time, desperation could work in gambling expansion’s favor.

MTA funding issues might bend ears to online casino pitches

New York’s dense and urban population make it an attractive prospect for the operators of online casinos and their suppliers. Campbell also shares comments from Light & Wonder Head of Government Affairs Howard Glaser, who stated that legalizing online casino play could produce a billion dollars annually for New York.

If Hochul does call for the special session and other proposals continue to meet impasses, a plan to legalize online casinos in New York might be the benefactor of that situation. Such plans could just as easily be among the proposals on the scrap heap, though.

At this point, Hochul probably won’t call the special session unless she feels that a framework is in place. Right now, there is no concrete reason to believe that such a framework would include legalizing online casino play. There is a chance for an unexpected cliffhanger, though.

Derek Helling Avatar
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Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

View all posts by Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

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