REPORTING USA: New York State Of Mind For An iGaming Cannibal In Manhattan

Two hundred years after highly-skilled weavers started smashing up the then-new technology of cloth looms because they feared for their livelihoods, the spectre of “Man vs Machine” is raising its controversial head again in New York State’s booming gambling industry.

Known as Luddites–a name now given to anyone opposed to change–, the militant weavers caused chaos but failed to change the course of history, as Manchester, in the North West of England, became the textiles capital of the world thanks to the twin impetus of the brand new tech and Imperial Free Trade.

Come today–and replace Dealer for Weaver–and some would say that the Empire State, recently converted to the runaway joys of online sports betting, is undergoing a similar revolutionary moment around the efficacy, or otherwise, of introducing full 360 iGaming to New York.

As we know from the flurry of celebratory stories exalting the billion-dollar-plus monthly takes of legal online sports betting in the Empire State since it was launched in January 2022, the iGaming vertical has been a mega hit in this key gambling market.

Now New York State is playing fast catch-up with neighbouring New Jersey and Pennsylvania; two of the only seven US states where full iGaming is currently regulated and legal.

Legalise It

But as New York State Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jnr., Chair of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, begins his latest push to legalise iGaming in the jurisdiction, retail casino workers are up in arms and claiming that the introduction of online gambling will cannibalise their jobs.

Addabbo has been fighting for online casino legalisation in New York since 2019.

Indeed, this is his fifth consecutive attempt to bring iGaming to the state, population 20 million people.

By reputation, 57-year-old Addabbo, a Democrat, is considered a friend of organised labour.

But this month over 700 casino resort workers, sanctioned by the Hotel & Gaming Trades Council, a trades union, wrote to the senator for the 15th District, representing Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, et al, and accused him of attempting to damage the land-based industry and hurt workers with his latest proposed online casino bill.

The introduction of iGaming to New York State would effectively cannibalise hundreds of casino resort jobs, claimed the workers.

“We find it appalling that you are pushing legislation that would hurt workers like us and our industry in order to benefit a handful of companies who are seeking massive profits at our expense,” they wrote.

“When customers come to a racino, VLT [parlour] or casino, they support all of our jobs, including cooks, bartenders, servers, maintenance workers and hotel workers.


“We know that if, instead, they were to game from their homes, workplaces, or elsewhere, their dollars would go straight into the pockets of gaming companies, rather than to support the livelihoods of thousands of New Yorkers who support the state’s gaming industry.”

And Bhav Tibrewal, the union’s Political Director, added: “This iGaming proposal undercuts the best thing about casino gaming in New York: permanent, high-quality jobs that New Yorkers can live and retire on.

“We’ve stated, and re-stated, our opposition to iGaming to Senator Addabbo, and now it’s time for him and other legislators to start hearing it directly from casino workers.”

Addabbo, (pictured left), has vigorously defended his position.

He believes that iGaming–like online sportsbooks and sports betting in New York State–is “inevitable” and that, in fact, digital gambling would only “increase jobs at land-based casinos” and generate at least US$800 million (£627.33m) in additional, taxable, betting revenue a year.

If anything, the prospect of a boost for traditional land-based casino jobs in New York State has never been greater.

Mega Casinos

Currently, plans for three new mega casino resorts in metropolitan greater New York City, which will bring hundreds, if not thousands, of new direct jobs are well underway.

In late 2022, Caesars Entertainment and SL Green Realty launched a plan to develop a casino resort in Times Square.

The Related Companies, a NYC real estate consortium, and Wynn Resorts want to build a casino at Hudson Yards in Manhattan.

And the New York-based Bjarke Ingels Group and developers Soloviev Group and Mohegan have unveiled Freedom Plaza, a proposed mixed-use development on three blocks south of the United Nations that could be the site of a new casino.

Furthermore, only last week NYC’s only casino destination, Resorts World New York City, owned by the Malaysia’s Genting Corporation, announced a US$5 billion (£3.92bn) project that would add a 350,000-square-foot casino floor, 1,600 hotel rooms and a 7,000-seat entertainment venue to its space in Queens.

So whatever the union’s beef, job losses are certainly not on the menu when allegedly cannibalistic iGaming, with a Big Apple in its mouth, comes to the Empire State.


360 online gambling is currently legal in only seven of the USA’s 50 states — Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and most recently Rhode Island.

If anything, according to many reputable studies and a recent report–“Comparing Online and Land-based Casino Gaming”–by the iDEA Growth trade body, commissioned by Eilers and Krejcik Gaming, a consulting and research company, the introduction of iGaming expands the gambling menu because online and retail betting essentially appeal to different demographics; digital players being younger and more predominantly male.

“The closer you look at the data, the better it is for the casino markets that have added iGaming,” Eilers & Krejcik Gaming Managing Director Matt Kaufman told iGamingFuture.

“Nearly all states with mature casino markets have experienced land-based casino declines this century.

“[But] states that have introduced iGaming have been materially more likely to see that decline flattening, and at times even returning to growth, compared to states with only land-based casinos.”

Added iDEA Founder and General Counsel Jeff Ifrah: “[We] welcome these findings so that the debate around iGaming is centred on real facts and data.”

And, we at iGF may add, not spurious notions of cannibalisation.

So eat that, with a healthy dash of mustard!

With additional reporting by Lauren Harrison

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