Mobile NY Sports Betting Showdown Could Pit Legislators, Governor Cuomo

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NY sports betting

Two key state legislators are preparing their case to sway Governor Andrew Cuomo on whether current law allows mobile NY sports betting.

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow is joining Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. in calling for the New York State Gaming Commission to include mobile wagering in the final rules and regulations it approves this spring to commence sports betting at four upstate commercial casinos.

“I don’t think any more legislation is needed,” Pretlow told Legal Sports Report in reference to the casinos offering mobile betting. “We just need the Gaming Commission to issue the rules, which they did this week, but not with all the things I’d like to see in the regulations.”

Pretlow and Addabbo chair their respective chambers’ committees on racing and wagering.

Mobile NY sports betting left out by commission

On Monday, the Gaming Commission gave preliminary approval to rules and regulations that would authorize sports betting at the commercial casinos.

Mobile wagering did not make the cut, which was the expected outcome after Cuomo’s budget director commented after the State of the State address that they believe there would need to be a change in the state constitution to allow sports betting anywhere but within existing private and tribal casinos.

Pretlow and Addabbo contend that mobile NY sports betting still technically would take place at the casinos because that’s where servers processing the bets will be located and where patrons will register in-person.

Without mobile wagering, the significant number of people interested in placing sports bets from populous New York City will find it more convenient to place their wagers in New Jersey, or through neighborhood bookies and illegal offshore websites than drive about 100 miles upstate.

“They didn’t do what I wanted them to do, which was to validate mobile betting,” Pretlow said of the Gaming Commission. “I’m advocating for this and so is the Senator. It may be helpful if the governor’s office got an onslaught of letters and emails from New Yorkers saying they want mobile betting, and without it their betting dollars are going elsewhere.”

Next move for the legislators

Pretlow indicated he was waiting for the regulations to be issued so he could see if they included mobile NY sports betting before making his next move.

Now that the preliminary regulations are out, he is gathering legal opinions to bring to Alphonso David, chief counsel to the governor, to back up his contention that the servers based at the casinos meet constitutional requirements.

“It appears to me the second floor has a lot of apprehension about doing this,” Pretlow said of the governor’s office. “We’re in the process of getting more qualified legal advice on constitutionality that what we’re saying in respect to it being legal is correct if people register at the casinos and the servers are located in the casinos.”

If the governor is satisfied that the constitutional approval the upstate casinos obtained in 2013 covers mobile NY sports betting, Pretlow believes that would be enough to get the Gaming Commission to include mobile wagering in the final rules and regulations.

The initial rules and regulations stand at the beginning of a 60-day public comment period before the Gaming Commission can grant final approval.

Gaming Commission grants MGM licenses

During Monday’s meeting, the Gaming Commission also approved a series of licenses allowing MGM Resorts to complete its purchase of the Empire City Casino and Yonkers Raceway, which are in Pretlow’s district.

Pretlow said that MGM, the second-largest casino operator in the world, was a welcome addition to state. He expects the company would pursue sports betting in the future.

“I’m assuming that they’re doing this in anticipation of getting a full gaming license at some point in the future, and I know they would prefer one sooner rather than later,” Pretlow said.

A seven-year moratorium on NY casino expansion expires in 2023.