New York Assemblymember Gary Pretlow expects his bill to expand who and what is authorized to offer sports betting in the state to be introduced by early next week.
“It will probably be done by the end of the week,” Pretlow told Legal Sports Report about his long-anticipated legislation, “but the person who does the fine-tuning of legislation isn’t in so it probably won’t be introduced until the beginning of next week.”
Pretlow had previously told LSR that he would introduce the legislation in May, but the issue gained relevancy earlier this week when the US Supreme Court declared the federal ban on sports wagering unconstitutional.
Why a new law is needed
The Supreme Court decision means that a half-dozen states are expected to join Nevada in offering a full array of sports wagering this year, and New York already is poised to be among them.
In 2013, the state put a referendum in front of voters to amend its constitution to allow sports betting in New York’s four commercial casinos pending a change in federal law, but that will create an unfair playing field for the commercial casinos if they are allowed to offer sports betting while racinos, racetracks and tribal casinos in the state have not been given that authority.
“The law is already there, the constitution allows for it and the rules and regulations are ready,” Pretlow said. “We anticipated this coming and put in a constitutional amendment to ensure that at least casinos have the ability to participate in sports betting, but I wish we had gone further to include racinos. The legislation we need now is to fix that, and to allow for mobile betting and for some sort of relationship building between online casinos and other entities.”
Pretlow noted that his bill will be similar to the one introduced by Sen. John Bonacic.
Online poker will not be attached
Pretlow had previously indicated that he was considering combining his online poker bill with the forthcoming sports betting bill, but he now says that will not be the case.
“I’m not going to attach online poker to it,” Pretlow said. “Every bill I do should stand on its own merit. I’m not trying to sneak something else in that people are opposed to.”
Federal legislation a concern
Immediately following the Supreme Court decision, the NFL voiced a desire to see federal legislation on sports betting and US Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) announced his intention to introduce such a bill.
Pretlow contended that this is a move by the professional sports leagues to get the integrity fee that some states have balked at.
“My fear now is that the leagues are going to push for federal legislation under the guise of having uniformity, but they’re really just looking for an integrity fee,” Pretlow said.
However, he doesn’t think that Congress will be able to pass legislation this year.
“It will take a while to work through Congress, so the states – including New York – are going to move forward and do what we have to do.”
Pretlow expects sports betting in New York this year
Having the Supreme Court decision come in the middle of May rather than June provides the New York legislature adequate time to pass legislation to expand its sports betting scope before its session ends June 20.
“I’m very hopeful,” Pretlow said. “There will be a lot of people upset if it doesn’t happen.”
While Pretlow wants to get a sports betting bill on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk next month, he asserted that it isn’t necessary for sports wagering to begin in the state this year.
“If it doesn’t happen, that doesn’t preclude New York from participating because, under current law, casinos have the authorization to participate,” Pretlow said.