Online Casino Legislation Gains Momentum in New York

March 20, 2024
Clinton Jacob Machoka

New York, USA - In a powerful move that could transform the digital gambling landscape in the Empire State, State Senator Joseph Addabbo has introduced a groundbreaking bill aimed at legalizing online casinos in New York.

The bill, known as SB 8185, seeks to extend the current gaming framework to include internet-based versions of table games, slot machines, poker, and other approved casino games, potentially opening up a new frontier for gamblers and the state's economy.

The proposed legislation comes as part of Addabbo's continued efforts to address New York's budget deficit and capitalize on the booming success of legal sports betting.

With an eye on the success of neighboring states, the bill outlines a comprehensive plan to integrate online casinos into New York's gaming ecosystem, positioning commercial and tribal casinos, video lottery terminal (VLT) operators, and online sports betting platforms at the forefront of this digital shift.

Under SB 8185, the state would extend online casino licenses to a broad array of stakeholders, including downstate and upstate casinos, VLT parlors, New York tribes, and existing online sports betting operators. The bill emphasizes inclusivity and diversity, setting forth provisions for three additional licenses available through a competitive bid process, with a notable focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives among eligible applicants.

The fiscal framework of the bill suggests a 30.5% tax on operators' gross gaming revenue, mirroring the taxation approach applied to the state's sports betting revenue.

Additionally, the legislation mandates a $2 million upfront fee for license applicants and a heftier $10 million fee for external platform operators seeking to leverage in-state licenses to promote their brands.

A novel aspect of the bill is its allocation of a portion of the tax revenue towards responsible gambling education, mandating a minimum annual contribution of $25 million towards employee training and responsible gaming initiatives.

As New Yorkers and gambling enthusiasts across the United States eagerly watch the legislative developments, the possibility of mobile real-money casino apps looms large, promising to revolutionize the way gamblers engage with their favorite casino games.

From the convenience of their smartphones, users could soon access a wide range of games, including slots, blackjack, roulette, and potentially live dealer games, subject to regulatory approval and operational logistics.

While the bill's passage is far from guaranteed, the potential economic benefits and the opportunity to bring New York's gambling industry into the digital age have garnered significant support.

New York Gambling Tax Revenue

A recent study revealed that the Empire State contributes a staggering 37% of the total tax revenue from sports betting in the United States, dominating the national landscape with its record-breaking figures.

The state's taxation on gross gambling revenues is unmatched, standing at 51%, far outpacing its nearest competitors and underscoring New York's significant contribution to the burgeoning sports betting market.

This tax prowess translated into $188.5 million in tax revenue in just the third quarter of 2023, a figure nearly five times higher than that of Indiana, its closest rival in tax generation from sports betting.

January 2024 marked another milestone for New York as it shattered its own online sports betting revenue record for the second consecutive month, amassing $211.5 million.

This achievement not only illustrates a year-over-year growth of 41.6% but also signifies the state's commanding lead in the industry, with FanDuel, a leading operator, securing a record $109.2 million in online betting revenue, the highest by any single operator to date.

The introduction of Penn Entertainment's acquisition of Wynn Interactive Holdings' New York sports betting licenses further strengthens expectations around the state's gambling sector, paving the way for the launch of ESPN Bet in 2024.

This move is set to reinforce ESPN's status as the most lucrative sports betting domain in the US.

Despite these impressive strides in sports betting, online casino gaming remains conspicuously absent from New York's gambling portfolio.

The recent decision by Governor Kathy Hochul to exclude igaming from the 2025 executive budget, despite the state's clear appetite and capacity for profitable online gambling ventures, has left proponents in limbo.

This exclusion occurs even as Senator Joseph Addabbo pushes forward with Senate Bill S8185, aiming to introduce online gaming to the Empire State, building on the momentum of sports betting's success.

The phenomenal success of sports betting in New York, characterized by record-breaking revenue and a substantial contribution to the state's tax coffers, sets a promising stage for the potential introduction of online casinos.

With sports betting operators like FanDuel and DraftKings leading the charge and generating unprecedented profits, the blueprint for a successful online casino market is clearly delineated.

If New York's legislative framework can adapt to include online casino gaming, the state stands to gain an even more significant financial windfall, further solidifying its dominance in the national gambling industry.

As the legislative session progresses, all eyes are on Albany, where lawmakers will determine whether New York will join the ranks of states embracing the future of online gambling.

We might soon be looking at a pivotal moment in New York's gambling history.

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