New York Senator Plans iGaming Legislation, Including Poker

Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. has announced plans to sponsor an iGaming expansion bill in the upcoming 2024 legislative session. According to the senator, the bill could generate more than a billion annually in new tax revenue for New York’s coffers, providing much-needed funds to address the state’s substantial budget shortfalls.

Addabbo Jr., who is at the helm of the committee on Racing, Gaming, and Wagering, has been a long-time advocate for regulated online gambling in New York. The Democratic representative for Howard Beach was among the primary sponsors of a similar bill that saw the Empire State launch online sports betting in 2022.

The bill may include provisions allowing New York to participate in multi-state compacts and shared liquidity agreements for online poker. Such arrangements have been proposed to expand the player pool and tournament options for U.S. online poker markets with smaller population sizes.

If the legislation sails through the Senate and House, New York will become the seventh state to authorize iGaming after Connecticut, Delaware, neighboring New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Off the Back of Successful Mobile Sports Betting

It’s not the first time Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. is broaching legislation for expanded iGaming in New York. The new bill he plans to introduce in the senate will be a modified version of S4856, an online casino gaming bill he tabled in February. It may incorporate key parts of an Assembly bill A1380 that Assemblyman James Gary Pretlow introduced last January in a bid to authorize certain forms of online poker. Gary Pretlow sits on the New York State Assembly Committee on Racing and Wagering. Their bills failed to pass, but changing market conditions and the success of mobile sports betting may provide fresh momentum for their latest legislative push.

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In the first five weeks of launching mobile sports betting, the sportsbooks received $2.4 billion worth of bets. In January alone, they generated $300 million more sports betting handle than New Jersey’s best month, according to Fortune Magazine.

Mobile betting success also translated into more gaming revenue taxes. The Empire State received $727 million in gaming tax revenue from a sports betting handle of well over $16.2 billion in the fiscal year 2022-2023. 

The new bill will build upon this success to ramp up support from both the Assembly and Senate. This is especially true as the state faces a steep challenge to fill a growing budget gap.

A Growing Market Opportunity

With a population of over 19 million, New York would become one of the largest regulated iGaming jurisdictions in the U.S. Its sizable customer base could support a thriving online poker network and diverse casino games. 

Nearby states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania have demonstrated the revenue potential through their own successful iGaming programs. Regional cooperation on multi-state compacts may allow New York players and operators to access an even larger pool of customers.

New York’s population surpasses entire states with legal online gambling, like Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Operators in New Jersey, including Caesars, BetMGM, and DraftKings, report their market is New York residents traveling to gamble online across the border. 

The Case for iGaming Expansion in New York

New York faces a dire budget crisis in the coming years, with shortfalls projected at $36 billion. According to a report put together by Politico, the budget gap for the current fiscal year jumped from $9.1 billion to over $5 billion, meaning the shortfall ballooned to $13.4 billion in just two years.

Recent analyses by state budget officials and Wall Street analysts corroborate the projected deficits. Moody’s Investors Service forecasts a massive shortfall of more than six billion dollars for the next financial year alone. 

Mobile sports betting in New York has generated more than $930 million in gross gaming revenue so far in the fiscal year 2023-2024 (from April through October), per releases from the Gaming Commission. Nearby, New Jersey’s internet gambling market produces hundreds of millions in tax revenue each year. It’s clear that iGaming and online poker expansion presents an opportunity for New York State to close its budget gaps through new tax streams. 

Mobile sports betting in the state has already proven popular, generating over $1 billion in wagers since launching in January 2022. This success indicates local demand for regulated online betting. If approved, iGaming is estimated to produce over $1 billion annually for New York through taxes and licensing fees.

New Bill to Include Provisions for Online Poker and Multi-State Agreements

Under the new bill proposed by Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr., online poker would be legalized and regulated alongside online casino games such as slots and table games. Peer-to-peer poker networks would also be authorized.

The new bill will allow New York to join the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA). The multi-jurisdictional accord, which includes New Jersey, Nevada, Michigan, Delaware, and most recently, West Virginia, allows member states to share player pools and liquidity for online poker.

Addabbo has expressed interest in exploring interstate online poker tournaments through such compacts to enhance the player experience. In a press release, he said such an agreement would serve as a means of expanding tax revenue on top online sports betting.

While prior bills stalled, proponents are more confident this time. Mobile sports betting has changed perceptions of online gambling and proven demand. The budget crisis and the success of neighboring markets also strengthen the case. 

Wrapping Up

Addabbo’s bill will regulate online poker, casino games, and peer-to-peer gambling across mobile and desktop. It incorporates key responsible gaming measures and oversight from the New York State Gaming Commission. The senator also aims to explore inter-state compacts that could facilitate multi-jurisdictional poker tournaments and shared liquidity between willing partner states. 

Addabbo and allies will spend the coming months building further support through economic analyses and addressing the concerns of skeptical lawmakers. Passage in 2024 would position New York as a regulated U.S. iGaming industry leader.