Six New York assemblymen want to create a 13-member task force to hold at least four public hearings analyzing mobile sports betting over the next year.
The bill, A 3294, is sponsored by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, who is the Assistant Speaker serving his 25th year. Ortiz introduced the NY sports betting bill with five co-sponsors from among his Democratic colleagues: Victor Pichardo, Andrew Hevesi, Carmen Arroyo, Al Taylor, and Robert Rodriguez.
The bill has been referred to the Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee chaired by Assemblyman Gary Pretlow. He would rather the state enact mobile wagering than spend a year analyzing an activity already available in neighboring New Jersey.
“I’m not big on task forces,” Pretlow said. “I’m bigger on doing something. I’d prefer to do it rather than talk about it. At this point, I don’t need more hearings on mobile wagering. I know who is going to come out in favor and opposed to it.”
Why a NY sports betting task force?
There’s debate as to whether mobile wagering would require an amendment to the state constitution as an expansion of gambling. A representative of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said it would. Pretlow and Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr., who chairs the corresponding committee in the Senate, contend that it does not.
During the minimum of four hearings proposed in the bill, opinions and testimony would be solicited from the public, interest groups, labor unions and elected officials on the following 10 matters related to mobile wagering:
- State constitutionality
- Effect on tourism
- Technology to prevent minors and problem gamblers from use
- If allowing mobile sports wagering would eliminate prohibitions of other forms of internet gambling
- Extent of cannibalization to host communities of casinos
- Extent of cannibalization on state and local revenue from horse racing industry
- Extent of cannibalization on state and local revenue from the lottery
- Whether others outside of the four commercial casinos would be able to have mobile platforms
- Whether it would negatively impact existing or future jobs
- Anything else the task force deems necessary
Pretlow hadn’t yet looked at what the task force bill sought to address. He noted that Ortiz is not on the committee and therefore “doesn’t have as much insight on the subject matter as members of the committee.”
Who would be on the task force?
The task force would consist of 13 members (or their designee):
- Executive director of the state gaming commission
- Director of the division of the budget
- State lottery director
- State comptroller
- State attorney general
- Three people appointed by the speaker of the Assembly
- One person appointed by the minority leader of the Assembly
- Three people appointed by the temporary president of the Senate
- One person appointed by the minority leader of the Senate
Pretlow has other ideas
The mobile NY sports betting task force bill is in Pretlow’s committee. Pretlow is going all-in on not needing any further steps to authorize mobile wagering at the upstate casinos.
Pretlow and Addabbo tell Legal Sports Report they plan to pitch the governor’s legal counsel on why it should satisfy the state constitution to have servers located at the casinos with people registering for accounts in-person.
Their end goal is to earn the governor’s support to urge the New York State Gaming Commission to include mobile NY sports betting in their final rules and regulations allowing the upstate casinos to commence with sports betting. The preliminary version passed the commission on Monday.
No plans for constitutional amendment
Pretlow said he will not push for a constitutional amendment for mobile wagering this year, beginning a three-year process. He feels it would weaken his position that such an amendment is not needed, as would allowing this task force.
However, Pretlow said the task force is a possibility if he cannot convince the governor that mobile wagering does not need a constitutional amendment.
“A task force isn’t going to do anything until next year,” Pretlow said. “There will be opportunities in the near or semi-distant future to have a meeting with the executive and his counsel on this subject, and hopefully we’ll move forward with [mobile wagering] after that.”