Not dead, not really alive

It looks like it could be another year without online casino and online poker in New York. At least so far. Though state Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. introduced a bill to legalize online casino, poker, and lottery games last week, none of those were included in Governor Kathy Hochul’s executive budget that was published on Tuesday.

That doesn’t mean that Addabbo’s bill is dead, but it’s not good. Earlier this month, Addabbo told Bonus that his getting the governor’s backing was his priority, so it doesn’t seem like he quite has that without the online gaming items in her budget.

He did tell Bonus this week that he still plans to fight for his bill. At the same time, though, he indicated that he might stop in April if the bill isn’t in the state budget, as he doesn’t have enough power by himself.

In SB8185, Addabbo says that New York state would receive around $1 billion tax revenue each year, “based upon conservative market estimates.” He also estimates that one-time license fees would amount to $150 million.

Under Addabbo’s bill, iGaming operators – up to 20 of them – would be taxed at 30.5% and would be assessed a $2 million licensing fee. New York is looking at a sizeable budget deficit, so the possibility of hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars in additional tax revenue could be something that is too attractive to not even consider.

Other gambling forges ahead

Unlike with online casino, poker, and lottery, New York lawmakers did legalize sports betting – the industry went live in the state two years ago. As one would expect, it’s been big business in one of the most populous states in the country. Total sports betting handle in November 2023 was $2.1 billion, a record for the state. December 2023 came in judge a smidge under that at $2.04 billion.

Regardless of what happens with Addabbo’s bill, New York is expanding gambling. Gambling and hospitality companies and their investing partners are currently battling for three licenses to build casinos in downstate New York (read: New York City).

It is expected that existing slots parlors in Yonkers and Queens will get two of the licenses, allowing them to expand their facilities to become much larger casino resorts. If that happens, that would leave one coveted license. Some of the known pitches include a Jay-Z-backed Times Square casino, a casino and entertainment complex from New York Mets owner Steve Cohen next to the Mets’ Citi Field, a Bally’s casino by the former Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point (now owned by Bally’s and renamed) in the Bronx, and a Las Vegas Sands casino on Long Island.

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