Cuomo's Comments Don't Rattle Legislators
Legal Sports Report

Key Senator Brushes Off NY Sports Betting Comments From Governor Cuomo

NY sports betting

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. is fighting back against recent comments from Gov. Andrew Cuomo regarding mobile NY sports betting.

At Addabbo’s urging, the Senate included mobile wagering in its budget proposal last week. In a radio interview aired Monday, Cuomo downplayed the impact the addition could make on the state’s budget.

Addabbo told Legal Sports Report he believes mobile wagering can still be part of budget negotiations with the governor and Assembly. Addabbo served Robert Mujica, the governor’s budget director, with legal arguments supporting mobile NY sports betting under current law.

“The governor’s comments yesterday are concerning but part of the process. Thankfully, the budget is not a one-day event. We have time to impress on the governor how serious the budget deficit is and how we can address it credibly with mobile wagering in the budget. Over the next 10 days or so, my hope is to convince the governor that it’s the right thing to do.”

The final budget needs to be completed by March 31 to be ready for the start of the state’s fiscal year the next day.

Cuomo’s comments don’t take in big picture

Speaking with WAMC’s Alan Chartock, Cuomo contended the reason he didn’t have sports betting in the budget is that the financial impact isn’t there for the state:

Sports betting, first of all, does not make you that much money. New Jersey has sports betting, it’s on TV all the time. You can’t turn on the darn TV without seeing it. They raised something like $13 million dollars – $13 million dollars is a rounding error in our state. So I don’t even think the economic benefit is there.

Addabbo responded that sports betting has generated $125 million in New Jersey since its inception last June. He added that language in the Senate budget proposal requiring a $15 million one-time licensing fee would generate $60 million for the state for the next fiscal year, before taxes on revenue are even considered.

“That’s significant revenue,” Addabbo said. “It’s money we don’t have and money we need. The budget starts with a $3 billion deficit and we don’t want to raise taxes.”

“Sports betting is already being done in our state. To recapture legal money in our state and stop it from getting siphoned off by other states, it’s sitting there.”

NY sports betting faces uphill battle in budget

In the radio interview, Cuomo also admitted that he wasn’t a fan of mobile sports betting and how “you can bet any time from your cell phone.”

In New Jersey, 80 percent of sports betting revenue came from mobile and online last month.

Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow assert that the legislature has the right to authorize mobile wagering under the state constitution, and that it is necessary to do so.

Otherwise, rather than drive to upstate for NY sports betting, people in New York City will continue do bet with neighborhood bookies, offshore websites or by making the closer journey into New Jersey.

However, Pretlow is not with Addabbo on the issue of including mobile wagering in the budget. A representative from Pretlow’s office told LSR that he doesn’t see any chance of it making the overall budget, is generally not a fan of placing policy in the budget, and his focus on mobile wagering will be legislatively.

Matthew Kredell
- Matthew started his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News, where he covered the NFL, Kobe-Shaq three-peat, Pete Carroll’s USC football teams, USC basketball, pro tennis, Kings hockey and fulfilled his childhood dream of sitting in the Dodgers’ dugout. His reporting on efforts to legalize sports betting began in 2010, when Playboy Magazine flew him to Prague to hang out with online sportsbook pioneer Calvin Ayre and show how the NFL was pushing US money overseas by fighting expansion of regulated sports betting across the country. A USC journalism alum, Matt also has written on a variety of topics for Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.
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