Addabbo bill calls for the creation of a responsible gaming task force

In an effort to combat problem gambling in New York as new casinos continue to break ground around the state, NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. is continuing to push his legislation (S.3067) to create an 11-member Task Force on Responsible Gaming within the New York State Gaming Commission. 

“When New Yorkers voted four years ago to permit non-tribal casino gambling in the state, it allowed for the construction of up to seven new gaming facilities. Four sites have been selected so far, and the casinos are already up and running or in various stages of completion in upstate Schenectady, Sullivan, Tioga and Seneca counties,” said Addabbo, who is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering.  “While we expect our casinos to provide an economic boost for our state, we also need to consider strategies to head off a potentially devastating upsurge in problem gambling. My legislation would create a framework for this effort.” 

The bill was recently approved by the Senate Racing Committee and is now under review by the Senate Committee on Finance.  It would create a special Legislative Task Force, with some appointees chosen by the Senate and Assembly. Other members would include the leaders – or their designees – of the State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), the New York State Gaming Commission, the Division of the Lottery, and the Division of Horse Racing and Pari-mutuel Wagering. The Task Force members, who would serve without compensation, would need to have expertise in problem gambling treatment and prevention, as well as insights into problem gambling programs administered by gaming facilities. The group would make recommendations to the Legislature and Governor regarding the best strategies to address gaming disorders among New York residents.

The Assembly companion bill to Addabbo’s legislation is currently under consideration by the Ways and Means Committee in that house.  

“New York’s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services has estimated that one million state residents have a gambling problem, including five percent of adults over the age of 18,” said Addabbo. “In addition, the 2013 National Survey of Problem Gambling Services found that, in 2012, New York ranked second in the nation in combined lottery sales, commercial casino gaming revenues, and Indian gaming revenues.  With more gaming facilities now in the mix, we need to realize that greater opportunities to gamble may lead to increased incidences of problem gambling, which can ruin lives in any number of ways.” 

Addabbo noted that the Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct Raceway, in his district, has had a positive impact in terms of job creation, community involvement and revenues raised to support public education in New York, and that the facility has taken a number of positive outreach steps to promote responsible gaming.  “I will always continue to be supportive of Resorts World as an asset in our area,” he said. “But on the larger scale, we can’t close our eyes to the needs of individuals and families who are being negatively affected by uncontrollable urges to roll the dice or take on the one-armed bandit,” he said.  

Addabbo pointed out that there are a number of organizations available to help people with gambling disorders, including The Queens Center for Excellence, which is affiliated with the New York State Council on Problem Gambling.  The website for the group is www.queenscfe.org, and information about services is available by calling 1-347-551-2913.