Deadline Looming For Gaming Bills In New York Legislature

June 4, 2024
A bill that would require warning labels on advertising regarding the potentially addictive nature of sports betting and casino gaming has taken another step towards passage in the New York legislature.

A bill that would require warning labels on advertising regarding the potentially addictive nature of sports betting and casino gaming has taken another step towards passage in the New York legislature.

Passed in the Senate unanimously by a 57 vote on Thursday (May 30) by a 57-0 vote, Assembly Bill (AB) 1118  would require all sports betting and gambling advertisements to include language warning about the potential harmful and addictive effects of gambling.

AB 1118, introduced by Assemblyman Clyde Vanel, a Democrat, would also require the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) to cooperate with the commissioner of the state’s Office of Addiction Services and Supports to ensure that all advertisements for gaming activity include a problem gambling hotline number, which is already a regulatory requirement in the state.

The NYSGC would have to provide advertising guidelines on its website.

AB 1118 was returned to the House for final passage following Thursday's unanimous Senate vote on the bill as a substitute for companion Senate Bill (SB) 1550. Lawmakers have until Thursday (June 6) to approve the measure, sending it to Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul for her signature.

“In New York State, gambling can be found everywhere from physical casinos to a multitude of online websites and apps,” Senator Leroy Comrie, a Democrat, wrote in a sponsor’s memo when introducing SB 1550. “The advent of the internet has made gambling more accessible through online betting platforms.”

The state’s Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) estimates that around 4.4 percent of New York residents are at-risk and less than 1 percent are problem gamblers. Comrie noted that the gaming industry has invested substantial amounts in advertising, while the state spends $1m annually on problem gambling messaging.

Versions of the bill have been introduced in previous legislative sessions. During the 2019-2020 session, identical bills introduced in the Senate and Assembly were referred to committees but never voted on.

In the 2021-2022 legislative session, Vanel introduced Assembly Bill 3826 to require all gambling and sports-betting advertisements to include warnings about the potential harm and addictive effects of gambling. The measure passed the Assembly and was referred to the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, but died in the Senate.

Lawmakers in New York are also facing a deadline on several other bills to amend the state's gaming laws.

Senate Bill 1557 introduced by Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr., a Democrat who chairs the Senate gaming committee, seeks to prohibit gambling for patrons under the age of 21. Under current law, patrons must be 21 to gamble at a casino resort but those aged over 18 may play video lottery terminals at racino locations.

In introducing his measure, Addabbo cited figures from the New York State Council on Problem Gambling that found approximately 140,000 adolescents state-wide have experienced problems due to their gambling.

After passing out of committee, SB 1557 currently sits on the Senate floor waiting for a vote with only three days left in the session. Versions of the legislation have been introduced in both chambers of the legislature in the last six sessions, but have failed to gain full support among most lawmakers.

Another bill sponsored by Addabbo, Senate Bill 8439, similarly is on the Senate floor calendar waiting for a vote. That measure would authorize 1 percent of total state tax revenue from mobile sports betting to be budgeted toward problem gambling treatment.

Under current law, $6m in annual tax revenue from mobile sports wagering is set aside for problem gambling, while SB 8439 would specify that $6m would be the minimum amount in funding each year.

“With the success of mobile sports wagering year-over-year, and a continuous increase in a new class of users each year, the system to help prevent addiction should also be growing along with the industry it supports,” Addabbo wrote in a bill memo.

“The additional money would help OASAS maintain and expand the services needed to help prevent and fight against gambling addictions.”

With time running short, both SB 1557 and SB 8349 would still need to be approved by an Assembly committee and then the full Assembly should the Senate pass the measures. 

Other bills on the long-shot list are two measures to speed up the process of licensing three downstate New York casinos.

Addabbo and fellow Democrat, Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow, introduced legislation last month that would require bids for three pending casino-resort licenses to be submitted by July 31 and the NYSGC to approve the three licenses by March 31, 2025.

The commission recently said that the licenses would not be awarded until late 2025.

Senate Bill 9673 remains in the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, while Assembly Bill 10338 was referred to the Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee. 

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