New York lawmakers have taken the first step towards legalizing online table games in the Empire State.
Rep. J. Gary Pretlow introduced a bill late Wednesday that would legalize some online poker games by classifying them as games of skill rather than games of chance. And Pretlow’s Senate colleague Joe Addabbo told it US bets that he is expected to introduce a broader bill in the Senate early next week to legalize other forms of mobile table gaming, such as blackjack.
The neighboring states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania already have legal mobile casino games, sometimes referred to as iGaming.
“Look, if the governor’s government is serious about the revenue and the fact that we can stop funds flowing out to other states, then we need to talk about iGaming,” Addabbo said. “The New Yorkers do it. They just make it illegal or they go to another state.”
Addabbo said he hopes Governor Kathy Hochul will mention iGaming as a potential source of tax revenue when she delivers a speech after she releases her state budget plans later this month. Last year, Hochul kickstarted the process of adding three New York City-area casinos by including them in its fiscal 2023 budget, a year ahead of schedule. The budget for the 2023 financial year was approved last April.
“I think she said about eight words about the upstate casinos just to explore the possibility,” Addabbo said. “That’s all I need. I just need something in the executive budget to get the idea out there so we can talk about it. If not, see, we can still get it done, but it’s more complicated.”
Taxpayers’ money could surpass mobile sports betting
The tax windfall of mobile casino gaming could be significant. In New Jersey, December iGaming revenue was $151.4 million, a monthly record, beating retail and mobile sportsbook revenue, which combined totaled $87.7 million in the Garden State. New York legalized mobile sports betting a year ago and raked in more than $700 million in taxes from its 51% tax rate on gross gaming revenues.
Addabbo wants a portion of the taxpayer money collected by iGaming to go to advanced problem gaming programs. Addabbo has also talked about limiting the number of hours the New York virtual casino floor is open to reduce the risk of addiction.
“When I look at iGaming, I’m more cautious because I think the population for iGaming is much larger than for sports betting,” Addabbo said. “With that larger population and the fact that New York is now perceived as a gambling state and the Hochul government is open to these kinds of discussions, I just feel like we really need to emphasize problem gambling and addiction now.”