New York state Sen. Joseph Addabbo has filed his new iGaming bill, hoping that the state’s need for revenue will lead to its passage this year.
It’s the third time in as many years Addabbo has proposed legalizing New York online casinos in the Empire State. This year’s version, Senate Bill S8185, incorporates changes from last year’s bill after Addabbo received stakeholder feedback. That includes the New York Hotel and Gaming Trades Council, the union representing casino workers across the state, which raised concerns about online casinos threatening jobs at existing brick-and-mortar gaming facilities.
In response to labor concerns, Addabbo’s new bill sets aside at least $25 million each year from the taxes generated by iGaming operators “to a fund established for the purpose of employee training, responsible gaming training and education, health, and development.” Only workers from a licensed commercial gaming venue represented by a labor union can participate in the fund.
A message to the Trades Council on Friday was not immediately returned.
In a message to NYCasinos.com Friday, Addabbo said he has not heard from other lawmakers or stakeholders since filing his bill, but he anticipates connecting with them soon.
Who Could Offer iGaming In New York?
Addabbo’s bill would allow the state’s casinos, both commercial and tribal, to qualify for New York iGaming licenses. Video lottery terminal venues that conduct racing also could offer online casino gaming. Mobile sports wagering platform providers also would be allowed to participate, and not just those that offer New York sports betting. S8185 also allows the state to award three licenses through a competitive bidding process.
Each eligible entity would pay a one-time licensing fee of $2 million to offer iGaming, and any independent contractor that provides a platform for an entity would be required to pay a one-time $10 million licensing fee. New York would levy a 30.5% tax on operator revenues. There is also a cap on promotional discounts for operators, not to exceed 1.75% of the monthly handle for the first year of operations.
The New York iGaming bill also allows for live-dealer games such as online blackjack. While participating casinos do not need to host them at their facilities, the bill requires live-dealer studios to be in the state.
“In its first year, New York quickly became the leading mobile sports betting market in the nation,” Addabbo said in the sponsor’s memo attached to the bill. “Similarly, if authorized, New York would quickly become the national leader in online casino gaming, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue annually for the state.”
Will the Governor Get on Board?
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s support will be critical for iGaming to become legal in the state. Over the next couple of months, her office will work with legislative leaders to hammer out a budget for the next fiscal year, which starts on April 1.
The state faces a budget crunch in upcoming years, with expenditures likely to surpass revenue by several billion dollars. However, Hochul has said that she will not look to raise taxes to make ends meet. That would potentially open the door for new revenue streams, like iGaming. In recent years, New York has legalized online sports betting and recreational marijuana to generate revenue.
Among those supporting iGaming legalization is the Sports Betting Alliance. Earlier this week, the trade group hit the New York airwaves with a 30-second commercial calling on the state to join seven others that offer online slots and table games.
Jeremy Kudon, the group’s president, said in a statement that gaming expansion can’t just be considered an option.
“We’ve seen the now-billions of dollars that have been brought into New York through mobile sports betting, and we believe fully that this next step can be just as successful,” Kudon said. “This expansion is not just an economic opportunity; it’s a progressive stride towards bolstering public services, promoting fiscal health, and safeguarding the well-being of New Yorkers in the ever-evolving landscape of entertainment and commerce.”
Hochul gives her budget address to lawmakers on Tuesday. That speech is not expected to include New York online casinos, but it won’t necessarily mark the end of its chances. Negotiations on the spending plan are expected to last through March, if not into April.
A message to Hochul’s office Friday was not immediately returned.