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Major League Baseball officials are betting on there being more Yankees fans than Mets fans among politicians in Albany.
In its continued push to pass a league-friendly New York sports betting bill, MLB sent two long-time New York Yankees to the state capital to lobby.
Former Yankees manager Joe Torre traveled Monday to Albany to meet with Gov. Andrew Cuomo about New York sports betting. Torre is expected to push MLB’s agenda that includes an integrity fee paid to the league. Now a top-level executive with MLB, Torre became a New York icon by winning four championships with the Yankees from 1996-2000.
Torre’s visit follows that of fellow former Yankees skipper and player Joe Girardi, who glad-handed with state legislators last week. Fired last year as manager, Girardi does not enjoy the same devotion among Yankees fans as Torre. He did, however, lead the team to a World Series victory in 2009.
“So I think it’s important for New York to be at the forefront and get something passed that protects the integrity of the game — this session,” Girardi said.
The Yankees’ lobbying visits follow those from former New York Knick John Starks and Mets pitcher Al Leiter.
Legislative proponents of New York sports betting submitted bills to create new framework following the Supreme Court repeal of PASPA. A 2013 law already allows for sports betting at four casinos in the state and potential regulations are being prepped from it. These new bills attempt to create more comprehensive legislation.
The Senate bill submitted by Sen. John Bonacic and the House bill submitted by Rep. Gary Pretlow contains few substantive differences. Both include some version of an integrity fee set at a quarter-percent of handle. Bonacic amended his bill to involve racetracks and off-track betting (OTB) facilities in sports betting. Native American tribes in New York also appear to want to offer sports betting at their casinos.
Bonacic’s bill would require leagues to submit proof of money spent to earn back their integrity fee. Leagues would be required to file annual claims that would be subject to audit by state officials before receiving money. Pretlow’s bill basically requires nothing of the leagues to receive the integrity fee.
Time runs short for New York legislators to pass a new sports betting bill because the state’s legislative session ends June 20, and there have been talks of adjourning a week earlier. Cuomo expressed skepticism last week that a sports betting law would be passed in the current session. The Senate is currently locked in a stalemate, with no legislation moving at all.
“Nothing’s going to happen this year because there’s literally just a number of days left in the legislative session,” Cuomo told The Associated Press.
Resistance from the top is not stopping both legislators and the leagues from pushing a bill through both houses. Pressure to get sports betting legalized throughout the state increases every day — Delaware sports betting begins statewide Tuesday and New Jersey sports betting continues legislative progress toward starting this month.