• Sun. Apr 14th, 2024

NYC casino workers bash bill that would legalize online betting in the Empire State

NYC casino workers bash bill that would legalize online betting in the Empire State

Nearly 700 Queens casino workers are blasting a bill that would legalize online betting in the Empire State – saying it’s an attack on their jobs

Employees at Resorts World casino at Aqueduct signed a letter accusing state Sen. Joe Addabbo, who has been pushing gaming legislation since 2019.

“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,” said the letter, sent under the letterhead of the influential Hotel & Gaming Trades Council union.

It’s a rare rebuke from within New York’s gambling sector leveled at the Democrat, who chairs the Senate committee on racing, gaming and wagering.

Employees at Resorts World casino at Aqueduct in Queens blasted a bill that would legalize online betting in New York. Matthew McDermott

The Resorts World facility borders Addabo’s district and many of the workers represented by the labor union are his constituents.

The bottom line, the workers said, is that people betting online won’t visit or spend money at brick-and-mortar casinos.

“When customers come to a racino, VLT [Video Lottery Terminal] parlor, or casino, they support all of our jobs, including cooks, bartenders, servers, maintenance workers, and hotel workers,” the union letter said.

“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,” the workers added.

The letter accused state Sen. Joe Addabbo of “pushing legislation that would hurt workers like us and our industry.” Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Bhav Tibrewal, political director of the union, said it’s time to raise the stakes with Addabbo.

“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, Tibrewal said. “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 has received 35 campaign contributions totalling $77,100 from iGaming companies and associates including Draft Kings and Fan Duel, campaign records show.

Addaddo defended his I-Gaming bill and said the legalization of online card games — much like mobile sports betting — is “inevitable.” He said surrounding states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut already allow I-Gaming.

The workers claimed that the bill would lead to less people visiting physical casinos. Mary Altaffer

“It’s a question of if — not when,” the senator told The Post Sunday, claiming legalizing gaming would generate $800 million to $1 billion a year in revenue.

He also insisted online gaming will increase — not reduce — jobs at brick and-mortar casinos and pointed to studies that back up that stance. He said his legislation would set aside $25 million yearly to protect casino jobs while online dealers would be represented by the union.

“My constituents work there. Why would I cannibalize jobs?” he said.

The pushback comes at a time when Genting, the Malaysian-based owner of Resorts World NY at Aqueduct, is expected to submit a formal bid to win one of three full casino licenses in the downstate region, enabling it to offer live table games as well as VLTs, or electronic gaming devices.

When it opened more than a decade ago, Resorts World NY at Aqueduct envisioned expanding its operations to include table games. It has already opened a hotel to accommodate players.

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