With the start of legalized mobile sports betting in 2022 and additional downstate casinos on the horizon, New York State is increasing efforts to combat problem gambling. To that end, New York State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. and his legislative colleagues approved a bill (S.409A/A.658A) establishing the Problem Gambling Advisory Council to identify issues affecting those suffering from a problem gambling disorder and recommend ways to make prevention and treatment more accessible.
“As co-sponsor of this bill and chair to the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, I am pleased that we are fulfilling a promise to provide additional resources and raise public awareness for problem gambling in our state,” said Addabbo. “The legalization of mobile sports betting brought higher than forecasted educational funds and revenue to our state, and the recent approval of downstate casino licenses will create jobs and additional resources, but this legislation demonstrates that we have not forgotten that we must prioritize problem gambling and address it in a timely, proactive manner,” concluded Addabbo.
A survey by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) found that five percent of adults exhibited problem gambling behaviors within the past year, while ten percent of 7th through 12th grade students showed signs of problem gambling or required treatment for the same. As part of the enacted legislation that established the ability for new casino development in New York, the legislature required casinos to deposit $500 annually into the Commercial Gaming Revenue Fund for every slot machine or table approved by the Commission. These funds are required to be used exclusively for problem gambling education and treatment purposes.
The Problem Gambling Advisory Council will make findings and recommendations to the governor and legislature on how to prevent and treat problem gambling in New York. The council will consist of 13 members including the commissioner of OASAS, the chair of the Gaming Commission, and eleven additional members:
- Four members appointed by the Temporary President of the Senate,
- Four members appointed by the Assembly Speaker,
- One member appointed by the Senate Minority Leader,
- One member appointed by the Assembly Minority Leader,
- One member appointed by the governor.
The Temporary President of the Senate and the Assembly Speaker must appoint at least two representatives of community-based behavioral health services providers.
The council can meet as often as necessary, but no less than two times per year. The council will develop and recommend strategies to ensure availability and access to problem gambling programs and resources, including information and resources regarding the prevention of problem gambling, for individuals throughout the state. They will examine the impact of mobile sports betting on problem gambling services, including whether there was an increase in the number of calls placed to the problem gambling HOPEline or outreach to local problem gambling resource centers, the need for additional staffing, or whether there was an increase in the number of individuals placing themselves on the list of self-excluded persons at gaming facilities. Finally, the council will develop an annual report due by October 1st to the governor and legislature containing its findings and recommendations concerning problem gambling.
The bill now awaits action by the Governor, and if approved, will take effect 180 days after it is signed into law.