Legislation sponsored by NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. to combat problem gambling as new casinos continue to open their doors around New York State has been approved by the State Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering. The bill (S.3067) would create an 11-member Task Force on Responsible Gaming within the New York State Gaming Commission.
“When New Yorkers voted in 2013 to permit non-tribal casino gambling in the state, it allowed for the construction of up to seven new gaming facilities – with the newest of four approved casinos just opening up in Sullivan County on February 8th,” said Addabbo, who serves as the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering. “While we hope these gaming facilities will provide an economic boost for these areas, and the state as a whole, we also need to recognize and address the potential for a serious increase in problem gambling in New York. My legislation would create a framework to confront this issue.”
Addabbo’s bill 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.
Addabbo’s bill, approved by the full State Senate in 2017, is now under review by the Senate Finance Committee. In the Assembly, the proposal is under consideration by the Ways and Means Committee.
“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 wagering opportunities may lead to an upsurge in problem gambling, which can ruin lives in any number of ways.”
Addabbo praised the Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct Raceway in his district for creating jobs for his constituents and generating significant public education revenues, but also acknowledged its proactive approach to promoting responsible gaming. “I support Resorts World as an asset in our area, and I appreciate the sensitivity of its leaders to the issue of problem gambling,” he said. “We simply can’t close our eyes to the needs of individuals and families who are being negatively affected by uncontrollable urges to chase their ‘easy money’ dreams right into bankruptcy and worse.” Among other efforts, Resorts World operates a Responsible Gambling Support Center on the premises.
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.