(NEWS10) – This week on Empire State Weekly, now that the statewide “mask or vax” mandate is lifted for indoor businesses, restaurants are looking toward the future for how they can remain successful while continuing to operate in a pandemic world. Many are saying a key factor to do this involves making one of Governor Kathy Hochul’s promises in her budget address, a reality.

To dive further into this issue, we’re joined by Melissa Fleischut, President and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association and Loycent Gordon, owner of Neir’s Tavern in Queens. Both agree that passing the long-awaited Alcohol To-Go bill will greatly help struggling restaurants keep their doors open, in addition to lawmakers taking action to make outdoor dining a permanent fixture in the state.

Meanwhile, as New York’s mobile sports betting program gears up for what’s set to be its biggest revenue-generating weekend yet, we examine the dark side of this widely-popular industry that only continues to grow.

Amy McBride, one of the Program Managers with the Problem Gambling Resource Center, joins us to discuss the routes those struggling with gambling addiction can take if they finds themselves negatively impacted by easily accessible online betting. According to McBride, the Center has seen a significant increase in people needing help since the launch of mobile sports betting in New York.

McBride encourages those impacted, even loved ones of those having a hard time with gambling, to reach out to them so that they can be directed to a resource center in their immediate area. The New York State Problem Gambling Resource Center also has an interactive map on their website that directs people to the correct resource center in their community.

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