New York Lawmakers Say State Can’t Afford to Fold on iGaming

Posted on: December 7, 2023, 12:24h. 

Last updated on: December 9, 2023, 01:10h.

In an op-ed published earlier this week, two powerful New York lawmakers wrote that the state can’t afford not to bet on legal iGaming and online lottery games. They believe the outlets could deliver the government more than $1 billion a year in new tax revenue.

New York iGaming lottery online
A DraftKings Sportsbook advertisement above the Grand Central subway station in New York City. Two state lawmakers want New York to get on board with iGaming and iLottery. (Image: Crain Communications)

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Queens) and Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow (D-Westchester) wrote an editorial in City & State New York, a media outlet focused on state politics and policy, stressing the importance of legalizing online slot machines, table games, and lottery products. They cite the successful launch of online sports betting, which commenced in January 2022.

In its first year, mobile sports betting brought in nearly $1 billion in tax revenue — more than any other state — almost all of which has been earmarked for education aid and sports programs for underserved kids,” Addabbo and Pretlow wrote.

The two lawmakers say that, as the state embarks on its first legislative session following COVID-era funding from the federal government, New York needs to establish new tax revenue streams to bridge funding gaps. The state comptroller pegs the New York government’s budget deficit at $4.3 billion for 2024 and $8 billion for 2025.

“As we prepare to enter a new legislative session with COVID-era funding from the federal government expiring, we face a looming budget deficit of great proportions,” the lawmakers said. “Solving it will require many difficult choices, but a good first step to beat the odds is right in front of us: we can double the substantial revenue we get from mobile sports betting through the legalization of iGaming (online gambling) and iLottery (online state lottery).”

iGaming, Lottery Bills Forthcoming

Addabbo and Pretlow have been stalwart supporters of gaming and gaming expansion measures during their time in Albany. They chair their respective gaming committees — Addabbo with the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, and Pretlow with the Assembly Committee on Racing and Wagering.

Both championed the state’s legalization of sports betting and online wagering. Now, they want to expand slot machines and table games to the internet and allow the New York Lottery to run games and sell tickets online for popular products like Mega Millions and Powerball.

The gaming chairs say they’re working on legislation to authorize iGaming and iLottery and will introduce those measures in January when the Legislature convenes for its 2024 session that runs through June. Six states currently permit iGaming, including three neighboring New York — New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.

“All reports indicate that these states are seeing a net increase in tax revenue from these activities, with no detrimental effects on brick-and-mortar businesses, such as casinos and convenience stores that sell lottery tickets,” Addabbo and Pretlow concluded.

iGaming Trounces Online Sports Betting

Sports betting gets most of the headlines, but iGaming makes considerably more money for online casino platforms than their online sportsbooks. That translates to more tax income.

In New Jersey, the richest online casino state, iGaming operators generated gross gaming revenue (GGR) of $1.66 billion in 2022. Sportsbook income was shy of $763 million, with about $717 million via online wagers.

New Jersey taxes iGaming GGR at 15% and online sports income at 13%. In 2022, iGaming taxes totaled nearly a quarter of a billion dollars. Sportsbooks generated $92.9 million in tax revenue.