Pretlow holding out hope for 2019
Legal Sports Report

Will New York Sports Betting Slide Into Yankee Stadium Or Madison Square Garden?

New York sports betting

Imagine visiting Yankee Stadium and placing a sports bet before the first pitch against the Red Sox.

Legalized New York sports betting was one of several topics covered during Friday’s three-panel discussion on The Future of Sports Betting at the seventh annual Cardozo Sports Law Symposium in New York City.

The latest NY sports betting bill is still working its way through the state legsilature, but the stadium and arena component is one that panelist Assemblyman Gary Pretlow discussed with Friday’s audience.

If sports betting does finally become legal in New York, state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. told the audience, “This is New York. We are going to do it bigger and better.”

Following in New Jersey’s footsteps

Neighboring New Jersey has seen strong returns from the mobile sports betting industry.

Based on January revenue figures released by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, the Garden State’s sportsbooks produced a record handle of more than $385 million. Nearly 80 percent of that came via mobile and online channels.

New York is not ignoring the mobile sports betting part of the equation. One of the big holdups has been Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s contention that the state constitution would need to be amended to legalize mobile betting.

Rules and regs don’t include mobile

Last month, the New York State Gaming Commission issued preliminary rules and regulations in regards to sports betting, but mobile NY sports betting was not included. While New Jersey has a nine-month head start with legal sports betting, New York is not rushing to the finish line.

Addabbo did not get into specifics pertaining to a launch date. Like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, New Yorkers could be looking at a multi-phase rollout.

“To do it right, I think we need to do it in a very methodical manner. I see sports betting being rolled out over a couple of years, to make sure we do it both legally and respecting the integrity of the sport, which is very important, and protecting the consumer. And then I would suggest we do roll it out to the stadiums and other venues at some point.”

Last Thursday, Pretlow introduced another NY sports betting bill, which included online betting.

Sitting down with Pretlow

Where does the legalization of New York sports betting stand now?

Pretlow spoke with Legal Sports Report following the 90-minute session to discuss the status of New York sports betting and what still needs to be done. One thing is clear: people want it.

“There is a lot of interest in sports betting. It’s probably the most widely participated illegal activity that we have.

“I’ve heard several numbers as to what is bet in New York and we have honed in on $10 billion. It could be higher. It could be lower. Ten billion being wagered in the state of New York illegally is something I think we should look at.”

Besides the mobile sports betting debate, another lingering factor seems to be the tax rate. Will New York have an 8.5 percent tax across the board, or will it take a similar path to New Jersey and split retail and mobile tax rates?

Atlantic City casinos pay 8.5 percent tax on retail wagering and 13 percent for online. New Jersey’s three racetracks, including the nearby Meadowlands, pay the same rate on retail, but 14.25 percent for online.

What’s happening outside NY sports betting?

Pretlow has not spoken with other states about sports betting, but he does follow sports betting news in other jurisdictions.

One of those stories included comments from Jeff Gural, who owns both the Meadowlands and Tioga Downs in New York.

“He says how foolish New York is for not doing this last year, and how much money he is making from New Yorkers,” Pretlow said of Gural.

The ball started rolling on New York sports betting last year, but Pretlow told LSR that by the time he convinced others that they were wrong, it was too late to advance it. June arrived and it was the end of the session.

New York sports betting limited for now

Those hoping that New York sports betting launches in time for March Madness betting will have to wait until the 2020 NCAA tournament. Pretlow said nothing happens in March in the New York State Legislature.

What we do know, at least to start, is that sports wagering is approved to take place at the Empire State’s four upstate commercial casinos:

  • Tioga Downs 
  • del Lago Resort & Casino
  • Rivers Casino and Resort
  • Resorts World Catskills

Before we start talking about which retail operation to get up and running, there are some loose ends to tie up. Could it be this year?

“Realistically, yes,” Pretlow said. “I absolutely do. I know if I can get (the bill) to the floor of the assembly, and (Addabbo) can get it to the floor of the Senate, both of our houses will absolutely pass it. Once the governor admits to dropping his constitutional argument, that is the last hurdle that we have.”

 

Bill Gelman
- Bill Gelman is a veteran sports writer based just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from the Jersey Shore. He has covered the NJ casino and sports betting industries.
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