NY Special Session May Revive Online Casino Legislation

NY Special Session May Revive Online Casino Legislation
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The online casino industry could soon get a second chance in the Empire State.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul shared that she is considering holding a special session to address a major funding issue for the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). The state-operated transit system is critical for residents of New York City, making it an emergency that requires quick action.

One solution to the funding issues would be to legalize online casinos in the state. The topic gained little traction in 2024, but the MTA funding crisis will almost certainly revive the debate. 

The online casino industry has received strong support, but concerns over its impact on the state’s brick-and-mortar casinos have prevented it from expanding. Legalization would mean less revenue for those casinos, making fewer jobs available for New York residents. That led unions representing casino workers to become staunch opponents of the bill. 

Proponents of the industry have attempted to cut the casino unions in on tax revenue from the industry, but it wasn’t enough to end their opposition. 

There is no expectation that opposition to online casinos will remain strong if a special session is called, but the MTA funding issue is a top priority. The legislature has to hesitate to impose tax hikes, which could lead them to go around the unions.

Casino Licensing Issues Continue

New York has been looking to expand their retail casino industry for some time, but the licensing process has been a hurdle. The state has three open licenses, but the application deadline was not until 2025. Many legislatures were fierce critics of the state’s drawn-out licensing process, leading to a passed bill that moved the deadline to August 31. 

The bill to push the deadline addressed mounting funding issues, including for the embattled MTA. While the deadline move means increased casino revenue will come sooner, it's too early to tell precisely how the process will play out. 

Given the urgency surrounding the MTA, legislatures may view the online casino industry as a more reliable and long-term solution.