Governor Andrew Cuomo continues to send mixed messages about his desire to start regulated NY sports betting.
A week after including the authorization of sports betting at upstate casinos in his agenda for the first 100 days of 2019, Cuomo didn’t include any revenue from sports wagering in the budget proposal he introduced Wednesday at a joint budget hearing of the Assembly and Senate.
Sports wagering didn’t garner a mention in the more than 200-page Assembly review of the executive budget proposal. That’s even with $1.8 billion in new revenues included to close a $4.7 billion General Fund budget gap.
Wagering revenue likely coming anyway
Cuomo said, “Let’s authorize sports betting in the upstate casinos” during his State of the State address. He seemed to send a message to the New York Gaming Commission that he expected them to stop stalling and introduce regulations for the four upstate commercial casinos to begin offering sports betting.
The Gaming Commission had since May, when the US Supreme Court ruled PASPA unconstitutional, to work on the regulations. The state pre-approved the commercial casinos to offer sports betting in that case when passing the measure creating the casinos in 2013.
A source recently told Legal Sports Report that the Gaming Commission was preparing to finally issue regulations. That begs a question: with a large budget shortfall, why isn’t Cuomo including NY sports betting revenue already slated to arrive? He and the legislature wouldn’t have to do anything.
Budget process is just beginning
This marked the first of 13 joint hearings that will occur before the budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year must be submitted April 1.
Every year, it’s a dance. The governor submits his proposal, and the Senate and Assembly each make a counter-proposal. They give and take until there is a final product all can agree upon.
The Senate and Assembly could still put revenue from NY sports betting into the budget. Given that it requires nothing he hasn’t already requested, Cuomo might agree.
What many hoped would be in the budget
While including sports betting revenue from upstate casinos in the budget would be another indication that the four upstate commercial casinos and two tribal casinos would be allowed to offer NY sports betting this year, that is widely expected to happen anyway.
Last December, New York Sen. Joseph Addabbo, Jr. told the Times Union he expected the comprehensive sports betting bill he introduced this month, S 17, to get done within the budget. That bill is identical to what failed to pass in the Assembly and Senate at the end of last session.
It would allow online wagering, permit racinos to offer sports betting, set the tax rate at 8.5 percent and provide sports leagues a 0.2 percent (of handle) integrity fee.
Hopes of getting it in the budget ended last week at the hands of Cuomo’s budget director. He said allowing sports betting outsideexisting private and tribal casinos would require a constitutional amendment. That is a three-year process.
Allowing online wagering is crucial for New York City‘s 8 million residents. Many already travel to New Jersey to place online sports wagers. They might do so in New York, but are not likely to travel upstate to bet. Permitting participation from the racinos also would give NYC residents more easily accessible options.