Call for Study on Problem Gambling Takes Center Stage in NY

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As New York continues to ponder over the possible legalization of online gambling in the state, it is becoming more apparent that more gambling protection measures are going to become necessary in the near future. A bill that seeks to research gambling habits of New Yorkers was recently introduced by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal and if it is passed, the New York State Gaming Commission will be required to conduct “a statewide evaluation regarding the extent of gambling by New York state residents, including, but not limited to the lottery, horse racing, Native American casinos, internet gambling, sports betting, and poker.”

If approved, the study being called for by bill A0951 will stretch all the way to 2023, which implies that there may be significant delays in the legalization of online poker in the state – it is expected that anti-gambling lobbyists will take advantage of the study to advance their agendas.

State Comptroller Joins Call for Study

Thomas P. DiNapoli, the New York State Comptroller is the latest New York official to call for the comprehensive study on problem gambling in the state. According to the Comptroller, the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), the body commissioned to conduct such a study, has not sufficiently and satisfactorily studied viable treatment programs for problem gamblers. He, therefore, wants OASAS to undertake a more “comprehensive needs assessment or social impact study to specify the number and locations of problem gamblers in need of treatment. The last study was done in 2006.”

As it stands, OASAS provides its services to problem gamblers via 20 outpatient programs, six inpatient treatment centers, as well as the Queens Center for Excellence that provides education and treatment at 13 Queens County-based private providers. In addition to that, the organization also provides its services through telephone line referrals for callers.

Online Poker Bills Still Streaming In

Despite the ongoing problem gambling concerns, many other online gambling bills have been advanced and their proponents are quite optimistic that 2019 may be the year that such legislation is passed. The most recent bill was an online poker bill that was filed by Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow on February 5. Assembly Bill 4924’s (A4924) approach remains largely the same as the ones employed by the lawmaker’s previous online poker bills – it seeks to have online poker categorized specifically a game of skill in the state. The bill, if passed, will authorize the creation of a regulatory framework for the issuance of online poker licenses as well as for the collection of tax revenue.

All this added up results in a rather messy tableau for the state’s gaming expansion plans. Even so, we should get ready for a number of changes in 2019.