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Mobile NY sports betting took a small bite from the Big Apple on Monday.
The bill advances to the Senate Finance Committee.
The comprehensive sports betting bill authorizes mobile NY sports betting at commercial and tribal casinos, expanding on a ballot referendum that approved land-based wagering at the state’s commercial casinos in 2013.
Most of the members present expressed unease with the horse racing industry — including racetracks, racinos and off-track betting parlors — being removed from the legislation.
Sen. Daphne Jordan, who voted aye with reservations, wanted to see all the state’s gaming stakeholders begin sports betting on an even playing field.
“To say you can help them later, I’m just not sure how because what share is left for them at that point when everything is up and running,” said Jordan, whose district includes Saratoga Casino Hotel and Track. “What I’d really like to see is a plan to include those other entities and not three years from now.”
Chairman Joseph Addabbo Jr. responded that he shared those concerns and hoped to add the racing industry back into the bill before its passage. But that couldn’t be done until discussions with the governor’s office on the state’s ability to approve NY sports wagering for racing without a constitutional amendment.
“The way I see it, this is a puzzle that the pieces are still missing,” Addabbo said. “We need to move forward today in order to keep this momentum going, but the bottom line is this may not be the last version of the bill. It all depends on what direction the governor wants to take.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has expressed concerns about the constitutionality of expanding New York sports betting all year.
Addabbo and the committee made it clear they advanced the bill to address disturbing testimony they heard at a committee hearing last week indicating that as much as 25% of revenue in New Jersey sports betting is coming from residents of downstate New York crossing the border.
Addabbo contended that New York needs S 17 to stop revenue from leaving the state and to regulate an activity that already is going on illegally in the state.
This committee passage is the easiest step for the bill, which is expected to gain Senate approval after inclusion in the Senate budget. The more difficult steps will be Assembly passage and getting the governor’s signature.
Addabbo remains cautiously optimistic.
“I’m hopeful that in the end, we have all the pieces in place and it forms a perfect, inclusionary picture where we have now maximized our potential revenue-wise, educational-funding-wise, job-security- and job-creation-wise, and included everyone – including the OTBs, NYRAs, the horse racing machine, everything else. We’re not there yet.”