Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow introduced a bill late Wednesday that would legalize some online poker games by reclassifying them as games of skill rather than games of luck. And Pretlow’s Senate colleague, Joe Addabbo, told US Bets that he will introduce a more expansive bill in the Senate, probably early next week, to legalize other forms of mobile table games, such as blackjack.
Neighboring states New Jersey and Pennsylvania already have legal mobile casino games, sometimes referred to as iGaming.
“Listen, if the governor’s administration is serious about revenue and the fact we can stop the cycling of money to other states, then we have to talk about iGaming,” Addabbo said. “New Yorkers are doing it. They’re just doing it illegally or they’re going to another state.”
Addabbo said he is hopeful that Gov. Kathy Hochul will mention iGaming as a potential source of tax revenue when she gives a speech after releasing her plans for the state’s executive budget later this month. Last year, Hochul jump-started the process of adding three New York City-area casinos by including them in the fiscal year 2023 budget, a year ahead of the original timeline. The fiscal year 2023 budget was enacted last April.
“I think she said, like, eight words about the downstate casinos just to explore the possibility,” Addabbo said. “That’s all I need. I just need something in the executive budget to have the idea out there so we can talk about it. If not, look, we can still get it done, but it’s more complicated.”
Tax dollars could surpass mobile sports betting
The tax windfall from mobile casino games could be substantial. In New Jersey, iGaming revenue in December was $151.4 million, a monthly record, and outperformed retail and mobile sports betting, which combined for revenue of $87.7 million in the Garden State. New York legalized mobile sports betting one year ago and has reaped more than $700 million in taxes through its 51% tax rate on gross gaming revenue.
Addabbo would like to see some of the tax money collected from iGaming go toward expanded problem gambling programs. Addabbo has also talked about limiting the number of hours the virtual casino floor is open in New York to reduce addiction risks.
“When I look at iGaming, I’m more cautious, because I think the population for iGaming is far greater than sports gambling,” Addabbo said. “Given that larger population and given that New York is perceived as a gaming state now with the Hochul administration being open to these kinds of discussions, I just feel that we really now have to emphasize problem gaming and addiction.”