State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. is concerned that NY sports betting is falling behind as New York City residents become accustomed to wagering in New Jersey.
If the state waits three years to go through a constitutional amendment process to offer mobile NY sports betting, it could condition residents to stick with NJ sports betting permanently.
Addabbo, who represents Queens, tells Legal Sports Report he received emails from constituents complaining they are tired of having to go to New Jersey for legal sports betting.
“People get into a rhythm in lifestyle and get used to it,” Addabbo said. “I’m hoping that they change their lifestyle and utilize our apps and facilities. We need to capture their money here before people get too comfortable jumping to Jersey.”
Gaming Commission rules missing mobile
Last week, the New York State Gaming Commission issued preliminary rules and regulations for four upstate commercial casinos to offer sports betting. It left out mobile NY sports betting.
Representatives of Gov. Andrew Cuomo indicated he believes a constitutional amendment is necessary to expand sports betting to mobile and online.
Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow counter that servers being located at the casinos should be enough to satisfy constitutional requirements that the bets are being made on-site. Addabbo likened it to other daily activities:
“In this day and age, we do everything from ordering food to purchasing movie tickets through the phone. Mobile is part of our daily lives. Doing something as big as sports betting or any other type of gaming and cutting out the mobile aspect really leaves us in the 20th century, and I’d like to stay in the 21st century.”
State’s fiscal woes add urgency
Cuomo recently warned that state tax revenues are $2.3 billion below projections for the fiscal year ending in March.
“The need for revenue has certainly increased,” Addabbo said. “When looking for revenue, looking to increase education funding and create jobs, there it is right in front of you in regard to mobile sports betting.”
With Cuomo calling the situation “as serious as a heart attack,” Addabbo contends that it’s a mistake to take a narrow view of the constitution when the state is in dire need of revenue.
“Without the online aspect in sports betting, we’re really shortchanging our state. We’ve got to figure out a way to interpret our constitution more broadly to incorporate the mobile aspect. Hopefully the governor can get on the same page.
“Just look at New Jersey. In the six months or so that they’ve done sports betting, 70 percent of which is online, they’ve received the revenue we could have registered last year. We didn’t do it last year. Let’s do it going forward. In those three years, revenue will certainly be siphoned off to New Jersey, possibly Pennsylvania, possibly Massachusetts, possibly Connecticut.”