New York‘s latest attempt to legalize mobile casino games in 2023 is on life support.
State Sen. Joe Addabbo of Queens, the man behind the longshot push to legalize iCasino games in the Empire State this year, signaled pessimism Monday morning about his effort to get his bill into the upcoming fiscal budget. Addabbo has said that such a failure would effectively kill the measure for the calendar year, barring last-minute inclusion by Gov. Kathy Hochul.
“IGaming is probably not going to be in the Senate one-house budget,” Addabbo told US Bets through a spokesman. “I’ll continue to monitor the issue during the year.”
Addabbo told US Bets last week that if the proposal didn’t make the one-house budget for fiscal year 2023-24, “we’re done.” Addabbo introduced Senate Bill 4856 in February. It would grant New York mobile sportsbook operators, casinos, tribes, and racinos access to licenses to run mobile casino games, including slots, table games, and live dealer games.
An independent study by Spectrum Gaming estimated that iCasino could generate as much as $3.1 billion in gross gaming revenue (GGR) in its first year in the state and up to $4 billion by Year Five. Surrounding states New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania all have legal iCasino gaming, and Addabbo estimates roughly $1 billion leaves the state yearly, as mobile casino wagers are placed in other states or the black market.
Long-term prognosis not as grim
The measure ran into some opposition from brick-and-mortar casino groups that were worried it could cannibalize their retail business, though Addabbo insists studies have demonstrated quite the opposite. One-house budgets, which reflect the priorities of both legislative houses, are released this week. New York’s fiscal year budget is due April 1.
Addabbo said last week he is confident it’s a matter of “when” rather than “if” New York offers legal, regulated mobile casino games. He and Assembly ally J. Gary Pretlow also filed bills to legalize iCasino last year. Addabbo’s iCasino bill would make an extra $11 million available for the state to combat problem gambling issues. He and Pretlow were two of the driving forces in getting mobile sports betting launched in New York last January.
Addabbo’s last-ditch gambit was to present iCasino as an alternative to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plan to use license fees and tax dollars from three downstate casinos currently in the licensing process to fund the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is under duress coming out of the pandemic. Addabbo suggested instead to fund the MTA in part with iCasino tax funds, which could be available sooner than brick-and-mortar casino funds since Hochul didn’t forecast earnings from those projects until 2026.
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