Mobile NY sports betting will not make the state budget as legislators and Gov. Andrew Cuomo remain on opposite sides.
Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. tells Legal Sports Report that the Senate negotiating team brought up the inclusion of mobile New York sports betting and expediting three downtown casino licenses in the state budget and got back a firm “no.”
Lawmakers hoped to convince Cuomo to include mobile sports wagering in the budget as a way to address a $6 billion deficit. With additional state costs to combat the effects of the coronavirus and less tax revenue expected to come in next year because of the resulting economic shutdown, alternate revenue streams have increased importance.
“What is so astonishing is that we had a need for revenue before the virus crisis, and we’re still being asked to make cuts to health care,” Addabbo said. “Unbelievable. Totally irresponsible.”
Expedited NY budget process didn’t help
In a typical year, each NY legislative chamber comes out with a budget proposal in mid-March. Negotiations with the governor’s office over the next two weeks lead to a final budget approved on April 1.
Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow planned to include mobile NY sports betting and expedited downstate casinos in their one-house budgets. With the will of the legislature, legal opinions from top NY law firms on the constitutionality of authorizing mobile sports betting in New York and voter support, they hoped to convince the governor on budget inclusion.
Because of coronavirus concerns, the chambers scratched their one-house budget proposals and began negotiating with the governor early, with hopes of completing the budget this week.
Mobile always a long shot
It seems doubtful mobile sports wagering would have made the Assembly budget proposal anyway. Addabbo indicated that Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie continues to stand with Cuomo opposing mobile wagering.
Addabbo feels he and Pretlow have addressed every issue Cuomo has brought up regarding allowing the activity, including constitutionality.
“All the governor and the speaker are doing is delaying the inevitable because mobile sports betting in New York is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ and we need the revenue now,” Addabbo said.
Future of mobile NY sports betting efforts
Addabbo says he will continue to promote mobile sports betting where he can until the budget is finalized, but it appears to be a lost cause.
“I believe we need to examine all credible revenue options regardless of any apprehensions,” he said. “We should be exploring both mobile and the three licenses given that the need for current and future revenue is evident.”
Addabbo said he would see what’s in the final budget and then strategize about how to move forward.
It is unclear if or when the New York Legislature will continue their session, scheduled to end June 2, after completing the budget. Three NY Assemblymembers have tested positive for the coronavirus.
If the legislature does return this year, lawmakers might look to begin the three-year process on a constitutional amendment to confirm the legality of mobile sports wagering.