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Assemblyman Gary Pretlow sent Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie a letter on Valentine’s Day, and it’s one NY sports betting enthusiasts will love.
Pretlow began the push to get mobile New York sports betting into the state budget by recommending its inclusion in a letter to the Assembly leader.
Dated Feb. 14, the letter obtained by Legal Sports Report also asks for a tweak on prohibited sporting events to allow for betting on collegiate tournaments held in New York.
Pretlow followed through on his claim to LSR that there will be a strong push to get mobile sports wagering in the Assembly budget proposal this year, unlike last year.
As chairman of the Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee, it is typical for Pretlow to make budget recommendations related to gaming.
This year, after going through funding for the New York State Gaming Commission and issues related to horse racing, he gets to mobile NY sports betting.
“Currently, New York State is only able to offer sports wagering within a commercial casino, causing a lack of potential funding for education that could be derived from revenues from sports wagering on mobile platforms. In order to increase gaming revenues that would be designated for education, I recommend that we include legislation to authorize mobile sports wagering in the SFY 2020-21 enacted budget.”
According to a report released this month by Eilers & Krejcik, New York lost more than $6 million in sports betting tax revenue to New Jersey in 2019 for not having mobile wagering and could lose $11 million by 2022.
The study also projected that the state could make $166 million in annual NY sports betting tax revenue to go toward education under an ideal scenario with online sports betting and downstate casinos.
In his letter, Pretlow recommended the budget include expediting four downstate casino licenses.
Noting that New York law prohibits bets on in-state collegiate teams or events, Pretlow asks that the definition of prohibited sports event be amended to allow wagering on college tournaments and their games happening in the state.
Betting would still be prohibited on games involving New York teams, even if they are participating in the tournament.
While Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a point about not including new casino revenue in his executive budget, he did propose to eliminate the restriction that requires sports wagering be operated exclusively in a casino’s designated sports wagering lounge.
Pretlow recommended accepting this change, which would allow sports betting to occur in any area within a casino approved by the Gaming Commission.
Each legislative chamber will be holding hearings to discuss budget issues over the next few weeks. The Assembly is expected to pass its one-house budget sometime in mid-March, then confer with the Senate and governor to finalize the state budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year by April 1.
Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr., Pretlow’s gaming committee counterpart in the Senate, also is pushing for mobile sports betting in New York in the budget. The Senate already put mobile sports wagering in its one-house budget last year and is expected to do so again.
If both chambers of the legislature demand mobile sports wagering in the budget, they might be able to convince Cuomo.
“If both houses put it in our one-house budgets, he will be hard-pressed to veto it,” Pretlow said. “He can say he didn’t want to do it but the legislature did it.”
The question is if Pretlow can drum up enough support from his colleagues to put pressure on Heastie, who has sided with the governor on mobile sports wagering in the past.
“Before the budget is printed, I will speak to the entire Democratic Conference and get them on board to doing it,” Pretlow said. “I think that will put pressure on the speaker to get on board. He’s not a fan of gambling, period, but he’s also swayed by the opinion of the entire conference.”