CAPITAL REGION — Whereas New York state’s playing revenues are off this yr due to the pandemic, state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli is cautioning towards in search of extra playing income with out first contemplating its impression on drawback gamblers.
With at the least one proposal within the state Legislature that will legalize on-line playing as a technique to improve state revenues, the state must weigh the professionals and cons of enlargement, DiNapoli warned in a report launched on Thursday.
“Earlier than increasing playing, the state should take a better take a look at the impacts of casinos and different gaming already in place, in addition to the issue of compulsive playing,” DiNapoli stated.
In regular instances, New York collects extra gaming income than every other state, about $3.7 billion for state and native governments from sources together with lottery video games, video lottery terminals, racetrack wagering, casinos and sports activities betting. About two-thirds of that comes from income generated by scratch-offs and different lottery video games.
However this yr, the pandemic meant that casinos and VLT amenities — together with Rivers On line casino & Resort in Schenectady and Saratoga On line casino Resort in Saratoga Springs — had been closed from mid-March till mid-September, producing no new income. Lottery video games have remained out there, however income from lottery ticket gross sales are projected to be off by $293 million, or 11.8 p.c.
Even when the 2 Capital Area casinos had been open, they had been restricted by state pandemic order to 25 p.c capability, and introduced in tens of millions much less income than a yr in the past.
For September, when it was solely open two-thirds of the month, Rivers’ internet income was $4.8 million, in comparison with practically $9.9 million the earlier yr. For October, internet income was $7.14 million, down from practically $9.8 million in 2019.
That decline is on line casino income can also be that means much less in host profit funds to the town of Schenectady, Schenectady County, and surrounding counties.
Saratoga On line casino Resort, a video lottery terminal facility, noticed $77.2 million in credit performed in September, in comparison with $158.3 million the yr earlier than. For October, it was $112.9 million, down from $159.8 million in 2019.
As of this weekend, each amenities face new limits on their hours, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo having ordered that every one eating places — together with the casinos, since they maintain state liquor licenses — should cease indoor operations at 10 p.m. Rivers had been open till 2 a.m., and the Saratoga facility had been open till 5 a.m.
Even previous to the pandemic, Rivers — like the opposite three industrial casinos in upstate New York — hasn’t lived as much as its authentic income projections. The Saratoga facility, as anticipated, has seen its enterprise damage by the existence of Rivers On line casino in the identical market.
In New Jersey, in the meantime, the place on-line sports activities betting is authorized, file revenues are coming in throughout the pandemic, prompting some legislators to suppose New York — which faces multi-billion-dollar deficits heading into the longer term — ought to get in on the motion.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to date has resisted the concept, which he believes would require an modification to the state structure. Backers of the concept counter that on-line sports activities betting might be authorized if the pc servers are positioned at present casinos.
In opposition to that background, DiNapoli stated the state’s spending on prevention, therapy and restoration for drawback playing hasn’t grown together with the rise in playing alternatives. The state, the report famous, spent $90 million final yr selling the state lottery, whereas industrial amenities with VLTs — that are overseen by the Lottery Division — spent one other $182 million on promoting and promotion.
Males, African-People and folks residing in deprived neighborhoods are disproportionately more likely to have playing issues, the report stated.
“The report discovered that whereas increasing legalized playing repeatedly over previous many years, the state has taken few, if any, steps to find out whether or not its efforts to maximise income might hurt New Yorkers who’re inclined to compulsive gambing,” DiNapoli wrote in a report abstract.
The report advisable that policymakers assess whether or not there may be an acceptable steadiness between advertising and marketing dedicated to selling playing and people dedicated to prevention and therapy of drawback playing; require the Gaming Fee to report repeatedly on how on line casino income and employment examine to authentic projections; and clearly determine the social and financial impacts of the lottery and different state-sanctioned playing.
“Ongoing dialogue of potential additional gaming expansions ought to be knowledgeable by complete, present data on social and financial impacts, in addition to these associated to income,” the report stated.
The industrial casinos are required to incorporate problem-gambling hotline data in all their promotions and keep a “self-exclusion” record for individuals who acknowledge they’ve an issue. The hotline quantity is 877-8-HOPENY (877-846-7369) or textual content HOPENY.