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Chances for mobile NY sports betting making the New York state budget seem slim after the state opted Monday to bypass budgets from each individual chamber and accelerate the final budget as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. told Legal Sports Report he expects a hastily drafted state budget. Furthermore, leaving little time to convince the governor that it’s the right move for the state to move forward on online New York sports betting without a constitutional amendment.
“When given the opportunity, I’ll inquire about mobile sports betting,” Addabbo said.
However, Addabbo admitted that it would be difficult to make the push for mobile NY sports betting during trying times as other issues take priority. Two NY lawmakers have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow hoped to put mobile sports betting in New York into the budget proposals coming out of their chambers, which were scheduled to be released Wednesday.
Armed with the support of the legislature, legal arguments on the constitutionality of moving forward with mobile sports wagering, and polling that NY voters supported the activity, the lawmakers thought they could put pressure on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to relent on his opposition.
The legislature has not pushed the governor with a united front on mobile NY sports betting.
Last year, the Senate included the activity in its budget proposal and passed a bill at the end of the legislative session. However, the Assembly didn’t act due to opposition from Speaker Carl Heastie. Convincing Heastie to include it in the Assembly budget was going to be key to this effort.
Cuomo was emphatic in leaving “irresponsible” gaming expansions out of the budget in a January speech.
Retail sportsbooks began operating at New York’s upstate casinos last year based on a 2013 law approving their presence at the four upstate casinos.
Addabbo and Pretlow argue that mobile sports betting was included in that constitutional amendment to allow for casinos in New York, as the bets would be occurring on servers located on the properties. Cuomo has not come around on that line of thinking.
Pursuing a constitutional amendment in New York is a three-year process. Lawmakers don’t want to wait that long while sports betting money leaves the state.
Research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming estimated that New Yorkers bet $837 million in neighboring New Jersey last year because they didn’t have a mobile option.
New York’s commercial casinos only generated $1.9 million in sports betting revenue in January. The firm projects a fully optimized NY sports betting market could reach $1.4 billion in annual revenue.
While the odds seem low to get mobile sports betting into this New York budget, the state will need money to make up for dips in personal income, sales tax, and capital gains tax revenues during the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus.
The $100 million to $150 million in state revenue projected from mobile wagering wouldn’t make much of an impact in a state with a budget the size of New York.
Addabbo and Pretlow also want to include expediting downstate casinos in the budget, and together the two gambling measures could bring more than $1.5 billion to the state.
If the timing isn’t right to get gambling additions into this budget, there could be a greater push to do so in the legislative session or next budget.
In the future, the impact of the coronavirus on casinos also could push the NY Legislature to get back to considering legalizing online poker and to seriously consider online casino gambling for the first time.