In a significant setback for the burgeoning online casino industry in New York, Governor Kathy Hochul has opted not to include anticipated tax revenue from online casino expansion in the state’s fiscal plan for the year. This decision, revealed on January 16, 2024, casts a shadow over the future of legalized online gambling in the Empire State.
The heart of this development revolves around Sen. Joseph Addabbo’s determined efforts to legalize online casino sites in New York through his bill, S8185. Addabbo has been a vocal proponent of this initiative, citing potential economic benefits and increased tax revenues. However, without the Governor’s backing, as evidenced by her recent budget proposal, the bill faces an uphill battle.
Governor Hochul, who repeated her last year’s stance of not accounting for online casino revenue in the budget, seems to have other priorities for the state’s gaming industry. The elements that did find a place in her budget primarily concern horse racing. These include extending the existing parimutuel tax rates and simulcast revisions into FY2025, and allowing some off-track betting facilities more flexibility in their capital fund expenditures.
Another bill by Addabbo, which proposed fixed-odds racing at tracks in addition to parimutuel betting, was also conspicuously absent from the budget. This omission further underscores the Governor’s cautious approach towards expanding gambling in the state.
Apart from these budgetary decisions, Governor Hochul is currently engaged in addressing other gaming-related issues, including the vetting of potential licensees for three downstate casino licenses and negotiating a long-term renewed agreement between the state and the Seneca Nation. A temporary extension of the existing compact with the Seneca Nation, which expired on December 9, has been agreed upon through March 31, coinciding with the deadline for passing the final budget.
As the March 31 deadline for the final budget approval looms, stakeholders in New York’s gaming industry remain in a state of uncertainty. The future of online casinos in New York now hangs in the balance, dependent on the evolving political and economic landscape of the state.