New York generated nearly $3.7 billion from gambling last year, more revenue than any other state. But what's the human cost of this money?
Comptroller Tom DiNapoli in a report released Thursday called for improving efforts to combat problem gambling in New York, pointing to the relatively low amounts of money contributed to treatment programs.
The report comes as gaming revenues are down overall this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and as state officials are once again expected to consider an expansion of gambling in New York to include mobile sports betting.
“The lottery generates billions of dollars each year for New York,” DiNapoli said. “While numbers are down this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Gaming Commission is studying ways to boost revenues going forward. Before expanding gambling, the state must take a closer look at the impacts of casinos and other gaming already in place, as well as the problem of compulsive gambling.”
New York has expanded gambling in the state over the last decade, allowing three commercially run casinos to open in parts of upstate New York. A New York City-based casino could be licensed at some point this decade, as well.
But the lottery remains the main contribution to gaming revenues in New York, generating $2.5 billion. Video lottery terminals, which are technically part of the lottery, add an additional $944 million.
The pandemic is expected to lead to a $616 million reduction in gaming revenue, due in large part to the closing of casinos and facilities that house VLTs for six months this year. Lottery game revenue, too has declined by nearly $132 million so far this year even as the program itself was not affected by pandemic.
But compared to what the state takes in from gaming, the amount spent on treating addiction is far smaller, expected to total $5.7 million.
The Office of Addiction Services and Supports has worked with contractors to review problem gambling in New York and the agency has launched a statewide media campaign to raise problem gambling awareness.