WILL MOBILE SPORTS WAGERING EVER MAKE IT IN NEW YORK?
Legal Sports Report

2020 Vision: NY Sports Betting Still Trying To Phone Home

NY sports betting

Nineteen states have some form of legal sports betting law. This Legal Sports Report series looks ahead to which states could have legislative action to regulate sports betting in 2020.

First up: New York.

Legal sports betting in New York began this year with sportsbooks opening at four commercial and three tribal casinos, all located upstate.

However, without mobile wagering, the Empire State isn’t coming close to reaching its market potential. The commercial casinos made a paltry $2.2 million in revenue from NY sports betting during October.

It’s safe to say that New Jersey ($46.4 million in sports betting revenue in October) is making more than that just from New Yorkers.

New York City residents are taking the more convenient option of going across the border to place bets, much to the chagrin of state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr.

What happened in NY sports betting in 2019

Nearly six years after voters approved sports betting in New York, the New York State Gaming Commission issued rules and regulations for the commercial casinos.

The commission then seemed to wait and see what would happen in the legislative session before beginning to give casinos authorization to commence sports betting in July.

Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow pushed for a comprehensive NY sports betting bill to expand sports wagering to the state’s racetracks, off-track betting parlors, sports stadiums and arenas, as well as permitting mobile betting in New York.

The expansion would have benefited the commercial casinos, which were to host the online wagering servers that the other entities tapped into through affiliate arrangements. It also would have made New York the first state to award the sports leagues a royalty, or integrity fee, of 0.2% on handle.

The Senate easily passed the bill by a vote of 57-5. Pretlow believed the Assembly also had the votes to pass the legislation.

However, with word that Gov. Andrew Cuomo would veto the bill, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie never brought it to a vote.

What might happen in New York in 2020

Questions remain if the state can authorize mobile sports betting without a voter-approved constitutional amendment.

Addabbo and Pretlow offered the governor the legal opinions from five top NY law firms, all agreeing that online sports wagers occur at the casino on which the server is located. Because voters already approved betting at the casinos, the lawmakers argue that a constitutional amendment for mobile NY sports betting is not essential.

Cuomo has yet to concur that a constitutional amendment — which could take three years — isn’t necessary. The lawmakers called out the governor and Heastie for standing in the way of expanded New York sports betting.

NY lawmakers ready to fight for expansion again

The bill that passed the Senate, S 17-D, won’t need to be reintroduced for 2020. It remains alive in the second year of the state’s two-year session.

Addabbo told LSR that he is planning a three-pronged attack. He aims to get NY sports betting in the budget by the April 1 deadline and to get legislation passed by the session’s end on June 2.

The question is, what will sway Cuomo and Heastie to allow sports betting expansion to get through? One possibility is they can’t continue putting up with sports betting dollars from New Yorkers escaping to NJ sports betting, particularly when the state is facing a $6.1 billion budget deficit.

Another factor is that the Gaming Commission tabbed Spectrum Gaming Group to conduct a comprehensive gaming study of the state that will include an analysis of the potential market and impacts of online sports betting.

However, it’s unclear what impact the study may play in 2020. The final report isn’t due until the day before the session ends.

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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