Having already been instrumental in bringing legal, regulated mobile sports gambling to New York, a process that has netted the state more than $250 million in new taxes in the past half-year, Joe Addabbo isn’t about to take his eye off expanding gambling’s reach, which he views as a vital source of new educational funding.
The state senator from Queens recently had his district boundaries redrawn and lost the Resorts World New York City casino, one of two sites viewed as near-locks to expand to full-service casinos when the state gaming commission issues three new licenses in the coming months.
Nevertheless, Addabbo said he’ll continue to advocate for Resorts World, which is situated at Aqueduct Racetrack near JFK Airport.
“Look, there are no walls around these districts. The site obviously will still employ a lot of my constituents,” Addabbo explained. “It will still be an economic engine for the state and the city and they’ve been a great neighbor. My advocacy, to whatever extent it matters, will always remain. It’s still part of my district even though it’s physically out.”
Resorts World a frontrunner to get licensed
Most people with knowledge of the legal gambling landscape in New York see Resorts World and the Empire City casino in Yonkers as slam dunks to land licenses because they already are up and running with video gaming and, in the case of Resorts World, already have a hotel on property. Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow told NY Gambling Online that MGM, which owns the Yonkers casino, also has promised to build either a hotel or convention center if it gains one of the skins.
Addabbo is among those who consider two of the three licenses accounted for, saying, “They’re existing, successful sites that have proven themselves in the community.”
He also feels that that their speed to market gives them an edge others can’t match, since any new construction would take three to four years to complete. Conversely, Addabbo considers the race for the third license “wide open,” with Assemblywoman Amanda Septimo pushing for a new casino in the Hunts Point neighborhood of her district in the South Bronx.
The licenses will be awarded by the gaming commission, which is part of the executive branch, while being guided by a community advisory committee that will include New York City Mayor Eric Adams and an appointee of Gov. Kathy Hochul.
“I think we’ll be interested to see who comes out with a viable, credible proposal that is beneficial to the state and the area which they’re proposing both in the short term and long term,” Addabbo said. “I don’t think we should look at this in any kind of vacuum. We need to look at the long-term impact, both positive and negative, and what would make the competitive market in the surrounding states a little concerned as well. I think we need to maximize the potential for that third license.”
Expansion of sports gambling on the table
On the legislative front, Addabbo said his priorities are to increase the number of mobile sports betting operators in New York from its current level of eight and to offer more betting options for New York gamblers, including allowing them to bet on NASCAR and fixed-odds horse racing.
He’d also like to initiate a robust conversation about bringing iGaming to New York, which has the potential to surpass the huge revenue the mobile sports operators already have generated in the state. Those matters won’t be under discussion until next January, however, when the legislative bodies next meet.
“We have work to do in gaming,” Addabbo said. “With this Hochul administration, it’s something we can talk about, as opposed to the previous administration.”