Workers fear job losses

New York State Senator Joseph Addabbo has been trying to get online casino gambling legalized in the Empire State years, having once again introduced a bill in January. But now, employees at Resorts World casino in Queens are expressing their anger about it, signing a letter to the politician to let him know their fears of having their jobs cannibalized.

The letter, from the Hotel & Gaming Trades Council union read, in part, “We find it appalling that you are pushing legislation that would hurt workers like us and our industry in order to benefit a handful of companies who are seeking massive profits at our expense.”

Their concern is that if people can play games like slots and roulette from the comfort of their homes, they won’t go to the brick-and-mortar casino.

“When customers come to a racino, VLT [Video Lottery Terminal] parlor, or casino, they support all of our jobs, including cooks, bartenders, servers, maintenance workers, and hotel workers,” the letter said.

The union members say that rather than gambling money going to local workers, it will just go to nameless, faceless online gambling companies.

“This iGaming proposal undercuts the best thing about casino gaming in New York: permanent, high-quality jobs that New Yorkers can live and retire on, Bhav Tibrewal, the union’s political director, told the New York Post. “We’ve stated and re-stated our opposition to iGaming to Senator Addabbo and now it’s time for him and other legislators to start hearing it directly from casino workers.”

Senator believes the opposite

Sen. Addabbo said it’s only a matter of time before online casino gambling is legal in New York, primarily because the state can’t afford to have its neighbors have online gambling while it doesn’t. It’s just incentive for people to cross state borders to play online.

He believes that online gambling will actually increase interest in brick-and-mortar casinos and, in turn, help increase the number of retail jobs.

“My constituents work there. Why would I cannibalize jobs?” he said.

Addabbo could point to research by Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, commissioned by iDEA Growth, that found that brick-and-mortar casinos see their quarterly revenue increase 2.44% on average after mobile casino apps launch in the state.

There were similar cannibalization concerns when it came to the legalization of online poker, but the concerns, while understandable, are typically unfounded. Online and retail gambling tend to complement each other. While some people will no doubt stay home rather than go to a casino, plenty others learn how to play online and are then motivated to try the live experience.

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