The drive for online casino gaming in New York has met many roadblocks, the latest being the absence of projected iGaming revenue in the 2025 budget submitted by Governor Kathy Hochul. But another barrier that has consistently appeared to New York iGaming is opposition from the main casino union, the AFL-CIO’s New York Hotel and Gaming Trades Council (HTC).
State Senator Joe Addabbo placed a $25 million fund for casino workers into this year’s iGaming legislation, but according to Bhav Tibrewal, political director of the HTC, that doesn’t address the union’s main concern: jobs.
“It will again be true that labor concerns will be the biggest reason that iGaming doesn’t happen in New York this year,” Tibrewal said in an interview with PlayUSA.
“At the end of the day, our organization has one job, and it’s to increase the standard of living in New York state through the creation and preservation of exceptionally good jobs in the gaming industry. When you consider it from that perspective, you understand it’s our job to be skeptical of a proposal like this where, no matter how you cut it, it is not a job creator.”
Addabbo responded to concerns from the HTC by including a provision in his iGaming bill that live dealers streaming games to casino sites would be required to be union jobs. That’s not enough, said Tibrewal, particularly as New York prepares to authorize three new downstate casinos.
“For every dealer job, there are several other jobs created when you have a brick-and-mortar casino, ”Tibrewal said. “There’s an entire ecosystem of labor, services and amenities that comes with a casino, and iGaming really completely decimates that ecosystem and changes the nature of what it means to gamble in New York state.”
As for the $25 million fund in Addabbo’s bill, Tibrewal said it would be “putting bells and whistles on a job killer. We firmly believe that iGaming harms the best part about casino gaming in New York state, which is jobs. No matter how much state revenue iGaming creates, if it comes at the cost of hurting the prospects for jobs at casinos, in our minds it’s a no-brainer that it’s the wrong thing to do.”