As lawmakers in New York consider expanding into online casino gaming and online poker — as well as approving three land-based casinos in New York City proper — legislation to create a problem gambling advisory council has been introduced.
The move comes a little more than a year after the Empire State launched sports betting. It also shows that gaming has once again become a high-profile issue.
So far into the legislative session for 2023, one bill has been introduced to legalize online poker. Another proposes to expand the number of licensed sportsbooks from nine to 16 by 2025 and replace the 51% tax rate on sports betting with one based on how many sportsbooks there are.
There is also a bill to require mobile sportsbooks to include warnings about the potentially harmful and addictive effects of gambling in all of their advertising.
Earlier this month, Assembly members Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), Al Stirpe (D-Cicero), and Jonathan Jacobson (D-Newburgh) introduced A1056, which calls for amending the state’s mental hygiene law by creating the problem gambling advisory council.
The council would be tasked with making “findings and recommendations to the governor and legislature on how to prevent and treat problem gambling in the State of New York.”
Specifically, the council would:
- Develop and recommend strategies to make sure people have access to problem gambling programs and resources
- Meet with individuals or organizations experienced in problem gambling services for recommendations on funding and policy
- Create strategies for increasing public awareness of problem gambling and the availability of resources for problem gambling
- Make recommendations on what percentage of machine and table game fees collected from operators should go toward the tasks mentioned above
On sports betting in New York, A1056 calls explicitly for the council to “examine the impact of mobile sports betting on problem gambling services, including but not limited to, any increase in the number of calls placed to the problem gambling HOPEline or outreach to local problem gambling resource centers and any need to additional staffing.”
The New York State HOPEline is 1-877-8-HOPENY.
A1056 also directs the council to determine whether the launch of mobile sports betting caused an increase in the number of people who voluntarily place themselves on the state’s self-exclusion list.
The council would create an annual report for the governor and the legislature that includes its findings and recommendations. Under A1056, the information would be due no later than October 1, with the first report coming no later than October 1 following the bill’s enactment into law.
A council of 13 members would be created, with two of its members being the commissioner of the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) and the chair of the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC).
Of the remaining 11 council members, 10 would be appointed by specific officeholders in the legislature, while the governor would tap one. Four of the members assigned by the legislature must represent “community-based behavioral health services providers,” the bill said.
If A1056 wins passage, it will take effect 180 days later.
The bill was introduced on January 13 and has since been referred to the Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, which currently has no meetings scheduled. Stirpe is a committee member.