New York Online Casinos Absent from Governor Hochul’s Executive Budget
The year 2024 has started with a setback for proponents of legal online casinos in New York.
Despite recent efforts by Senator Joseph Addabbo and his new online casino bill in the state Senate, Governor Kathy Hochul announced her executive budget this week – and it did not include the potential extra tax revenue promised by online casinos.
Addabbo has previously stated that he would not push hard for the bill without Hochul’s support, and the budget’s exclusion of online gaming indicates that this support is not forthcoming.
If online casinos in the Empire State are to be realized this year, Sen. Addabbo must convince Hochul and other lawmakers by March 31, when the final budget will be agreed. That looks unlikely at this stage.
On the other hand, the New York sports betting market is going all guns blazing, hitting record after record in 2023, and the state is also planning to expand the list of physical New York casinos with three new licenses in the coming year.
“Through the policies I have laid out in my State of the State and this Budget, my administration will accomplish a solid, balanced budget without cuts or placing an added burden on taxpayers, all while delivering the programs and services New Yorkers care about most,” Hochul wrote in her budget briefing posted this week.
Budget Focus Not Gambling
Governor Hochul’s budget may not have included revenue from potential online casinos. But it did feature gambling taxes in various forms.
The $233 billion budget is a record for the state, just eclipsing last year’s $229 billion.
While it may not include online casinos, it does have some updates for New York horse race betting.
Hochul plans to extend the existing pari-mutuel tax rates and simulcast revisions into the fiscal year 2025. Additionally, the budget proposes to continue allowing some off-track betting facilities flexibility in terms of spending their capital funds.
However, another bill by Addabbo, which would allow for fixed-odds racing at tracks in addition to pari-mutuel betting, was not included in the budget.
Other Gambling Concerns
This year, Governor Hochul is dealing with other gaming issues, including handing out three new licenses for massive casino resort projects in downstate New York.
The budget says that a significant share of the $1.5 billion in licensing fees expected will go to funding New York’s Mass Transit Authority, which has been in a fiscal crisis since a severe drop-off in ridership post-pandemic.
It also clarified that Hochul’s administration expects some $231 million to $413 million in tax per year from the three casino operations, once up and running.
The ongoing discussions with the state’s Seneca Nation tribe over their long-term renewed gambling agreement will also be a concern for the Governor. A temporary extension was agreed upon until March 31, as the old compact officially expired in December 2023.
“We are focused on the areas that will have the highest impact to improve people’s lives, and we will use the entirety of this responsible yet ambitious budget to address the needs of every New Yorker,” Hochul wrote.
The exclusion of online casinos from New York’s FY25 budget reflects the complexities of online casino legalization in the U.S. That’s especially true compared with sports betting. Sportsbooks are now legal in 40 state markets, most recently sports betting in Vermont, compared to just six with online casinos.
Since Governor Hochul’s budget has not included an online casinos component and Senator Addabbo has expressed reliance on executive support, the latest effort appears to have now faltered before it even really got started.