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Casinos in the City

SARAH YOKUBAITIS, HOST AND BYLINE: One billion dollars. That’s how much it will cost you if you want to get a casino liscene in New York state. The potential new casino licenses are being debated by the state legislature as they work to pass next year’s budget. I spoke with a gambling addiction expert to learn more.

YOKUBAITIS: Gambling companies are spending thousands to lobby state lawmakers to create three new casino licenses. One of the licenses could potentially be used to build a Monaco-style casino atop Saks Fifth Avenue. Sheena Smith is a gambling addiction specialist with the New York Council on Problem Gambling.

SHEENA SMITH: Our agency has two goals and the goals are: we have a neutral stance and we connect problem gamblers to care, as well as provide awareness. So when you ask the question about is the casino okay for New York City. I believe that it could be a detriment to those who have an addiction to gambling.

YOKUBAITIS: Smith says her organization has seen an increase in calls since the state legalized online sports betting in January.

SMITH: I think right now that people are still enjoying the hype of having the easily accessible sports betting through their phone apps, that they’re not really thinking of it as a problem as of yet. Addiction comes in a cycle. So right now, some people are enjoying it. But for those who have witnessed that this can be a problem, we have seen the rise in call volume. (:20)

YOKUBAITIS: New York City Mayor Eric Adams has said that he would like at least two of the licenses to go to New York City. Sheena Smith wants the legislature to include money to treat gambling addiction in the upcoming budget as well.

SMITH: So being able to provide us with the resources that we need, so that we can do our job and provide assistance to those who need it. So that's what we need to see as well.

YOKUBAITIS: The state legislature is likely to decide the issue before this weekend.

Sarah Yokubaitis, Uptown Radio News.


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