NY Sports Betting Bill Clears Senate Hurdle, But Many More Await

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NY sports betting

As New York Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. told Legal Sports Report earlier Monday, his NY sports betting legislation cleared the Senate on a 57-5 vote.

He also believes there is general support in the Assembly to pass the bill if leadership allows it to happen.

Addabbo indicated that he conferenced with Democratic senators on the NY sports betting bill at the end of last week to produce a few minor cosmetic changes to the language. He correctly predicted that the updated S 17D would move through the Rules Committee before the vote.

“The only reason I would like to see it on the floor today is to give the Assembly a little momentum, a little incentive,” Addabbo said. “If we do it today, it gives them Tuesday and Wednesday to do it. The sooner for us to do it, the better.”

The New York legislative session ends Wednesday.

NY sports betting fate in Assembly a bit shakier

Addabbo wasn’t as optimistic about the bill’s fate in the Assembly but said he hears there is general Democratic support for the bill.

“I can only be optimistic about my House, which I know for certain,” Addabbo said. “Assemblyman Pretlow, I believe, has done honorable work getting support for this bill. According to Assemblyman Pretlow, he has 76 Democratic supporters.”

There are 150 members of the Assembly and a simple majority is enough to pass legislation, meaning 76 supporters could be enough if they hold.

Wait just a minute …

But a bill can’t pass without Assembly leadership calling it for a vote. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has been a vocal opponent of previous efforts to expand gaming and gambling laws.

Heastie has not been friendly to previous online poker efforts in the Assembly, but Pretlow suggested last year that the Speaker is obligated to push forward a bill with 76 supporters from the majority party.

“If the speaker wants it, then they’ll do it,” Addabbo said. “If I show my leader that there’s a strong majority of my conference for a bill, he’ll bring it up on the floor. I think it’s the same thing in the other House.”

Governor still waiting at the end of the rainbow with an ax

If a NY gambling bill can make it through the Assembly for a change, it would go to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has expressed reservations about the state constitutionality of mobile wagering all session long.

Just last week, Cuomo reiterated that he doesn’t think mobile wagering will get done this year.

Addabbo noted he has not been in recent discussions with the governor’s office and has no reason to believe he will change his mind, but thinks there is a benefit to putting the legislation on his desk.

“That’s the idea,” Addabbo said. “He can get a bill passed by the Senate and Assembly and then he has to make a decision to veto it, approve it, or maybe work with us on an administrative version of mobile.”

Sports betting bill faces a difficult path

Despite Senate passage, turning the NY sports betting bill into law this year remains unlikely.

Even the usually optimistic Addabbo did not feign much excitement for the bill’s ultimate prospects. He’s already talking about what will happen after it fails.

“After the session ends, we’ll regroup and see what direction to go in because jobs will be in jeopardy,” Addabbo said. “If we don’t infuse activity into the game situation here in the state, horse racing is hurting, OTBs are hurting – there are a number of places that will benefit from sports betting and, if we don’t do it, some jobs will be in jeopardy. I’d rather not see it.”

He spoke about letting the governor and lawmakers see how the state handles retail sports betting and then going forward from there.

New York recently finalized the rules for upstate casinos to offer sports betting on-site, but the existing law does not include mobile wagering. This bill would not only permit mobile wagering but authorize racetracks, off-track betting parlors and professional sports venues to have sports betting in partnerships with casinos.

“I can only be hopeful,” Addabbo said. “If we leave the session not doing it, it will leave $100 million on the table in revenue to the state, leave an illegal activity to continue in our state and our downstate residents to continue to go to New Jersey to partake in sports betting there.”