Criticized state Sen. Joe Addabbo

Resorts World Casino employees rally against New York online betting bill, citing job threats

Reading time 2:03 min

Nearly 700 employees of Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct have expressed strong opposition to a bill seeking to legalize online betting in New York.

In a signed letter, the workers criticized state Sen. Joe Addabbo, Chairman of the Senate committee on racing, gaming, and wagering, who has been advocating for gaming legislation since 2019, the New York Post reported.

“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,” employees wrote in a signed letter sent under the influential Hotel & Gaming Trades Council union's letterhead.

The rare rebuke from within New York's gambling sector targets Sen. Addabbo, whose district includes the Resorts World facility, and many of the workers are constituents of the Democratic senator.

The casino workers contend that the proposed online betting legislation poses a threat to their jobs, as they argue individuals engaging in online betting are less likely to visit or spend money at physical 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,” it added.

Bhav Tibrewal, the political director of the union, said it was time to challenge Sen. Addabbo's stance on the issue. The senator has received campaign contributions totaling $77,100 from iGaming companies and associates, including DraftKings and FanDuel, according to campaign records consulted by the New York Post.

“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,” Tibrewal said.

Sen. Addabbo defended his proposed iGaming bill, asserting that the legalization of online card games is "inevitable" and highlighting the precedent set by neighboring states such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, which have all legalized their respective markets. He anticipates that legalizing online gaming would generate annual revenue in the range of $800 million to $1 billion.

The senator argues that online gaming would actually increase employment at brick-and-mortar casinos and referred to studies supporting this perspective. He assured that his legislation includes provisions to allocate $25 million annually to protect casino jobs, with online dealers being represented by the union.

The resistance from casino workers comes at a pivotal time for Genting, the Malaysian-based owner of Resorts World NY at Aqueduct, as it is expected to submit a formal bid for one of three full casino licenses in the downstate region. If successful, this would allow the casino to offer live table games in addition to electronic gaming devices.

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