Industry New York

New York State Problem Gambling Task Force Bill Vetoed By Governor For Fiscal Reasons

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Though the New York legislative session ended this summer, a problem gambling bill that cleared the legislature earlier this year was officially on the governor’s desk as of last week. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed it Monday, but it didn’t come as a surprise to the sponsor.

The legislation, sponsored by state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, Jr., a Democrat, had nearly unanimous support. It was introduced in January, cleared the Senate in February, and passed the Assembly in late May.

Addabbo told US Bets Tuesday that the governor talked to him ahead of the veto, explaining that it was for fiscal reasons. The task force would have cost the state $500k, according to Addabbo. Cuomo didn’t disagree with the intent or purpose behind the legislation, Addabbo added.

According to the lawmaker, the task force could be considered at a later time.

The task force might have been premature, as well, considering efforts underway to expand gambling in the Empire State, as well as a separate study to survey the existing gambling market. New York already takes problem gambling seriously, as outlined in a report by the American Gaming Association.

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In a veto memo obtained by US Bets, Cuomo called the legislation “unnecessary and untimely.”

Abbabbo said that the problem gambling task force measure, S01978, can be considered to be in conjunction with his efforts to expand gambling in the state. The problem gambling bill came alongside efforts by Addabbo and others to bring online/mobile sports betting to New York. That proposal died around mid-year, leaving legal sports betting in New York confined to the upstate casinos, much to the dismay of the sponsor. Addabbo’s mobile sports gambling bill called for a multitude of robust methods to address problem sports gambling, including a substantial chunk of tax revenue to help those who fall victim to the activity.

Responsible gambling is a high priority for Addabbo.

What S01978 would have done

The 11-member task force, which would have been comprised of various state officials or individuals appointed by state officials, would have been required to, according to the text of the bill:

  • Identify policies and programs that mitigate the risks and consequences associated with compulsive gambling and promote responsible gaming practices for all gaming activities authorized in New York.
  • Recommend policies and procedures to be promulgated in regulations by the gaming commission and its divisions to ensure responsible gaming in all facilities licensed or enfranchised by the state.
  • Recommend a structure by which all responsible gaming regulations promulgated by the commission or its divisions shall be enforced, including but not limited to penalties for violations of regulatory standards and corrective action.
  • Identify methods to measure effectiveness of any responsible gaming procedures implemented.
  • Identify and recommend provisions necessary to ensure responsible gaming practices to be included in enabling legislation authorizing casino style gaming facilities in New York state.

Members of the task force were not to be directly compensated for their work outside reimbursement for their expenses involved with carrying out their duties. Still, it would have come at an expense to the state. The task force would have been required to issue a report no later than Dec. 1, 2020. The task force would have been dissolved “at the completion of all duties,” according to the legislation.

Earlier this month, Spectrum Gaming Group was selected by New York State to conduct a study of its gaming market, including the potential benefits of online/mobile sports betting. The draft of that report is due April 1, 2020, with the final version due on June 1.

Addabbo said the results of that study will impact his future legislative efforts on gaming.

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