New Yorkers have long waited to see results of a comprehensive study of the state’s gambling industry. They will have to wait a little longer.
The New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) extended the June 1 deadline so that the study can address changes in the market as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
But Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. tells Legal Sports Report that, after researching the matter, he is confident that the study results will still come in time to help him push for mobile New York sports betting this session.
Long and winding road to NY sports betting study
When the NYSGC first called for the study in July, it set the due date for the final report at Dec. 31, 2019. But the commission didn’t choose Spectrum Gaming Group to conduct the study until November.
Brad Maione, spokesman for the NYSGC, issued this response when asked about the NY sports betting study:
“Since the issuance of the Requests for Proposal to conduct a Gaming Marketing Study, the gaming landscape has been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The potential impacts of this pandemic on the future of existing gaming and its implications on future development need to be fully considered.
“Accordingly, we have agreed to provide the additional time necessary to fully measure this issue.”
He declined to answer a question regarding the timetable for the report and any new parameters provided to Spectrum Gaming.
Credible delay for NY sports betting study
One component of the study is looking into the potential market and impacts for offering sports wagering online. New York currently has legal sports betting only at upstate casinos. For most New Yorkers who live in the NYC area, it is more convenient to bet in New Jersey.
Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow hope to use the report to push for mobile sports wagering and expediting new casinos licenses in the New York City area. A draft report submitted April 1 has not been made available to lawmakers.
While there is support in both chambers for mobile sports betting, according to the authors, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie have blocked previous efforts.
Addabbo has been frustrated by the delays but sees merit in looking into the coronavirus impacts on New York’s gambling industry.
“The virus did affect our gaming statewide, there’s no question,” Addabbo said. “Given that the global pandemic hampered our state for months now, it’s going to take a while for gaming entities to get back up and running. For the study to reflect that I think is the right thing to do.”
NY legislative session also extended by pandemic
While the study has been delayed as a result of the coronavirus, so too has New York’s legislative session. Originally scheduled to end earlier this week, the session may go into November or beyond.
The legislature currently is meeting occasionally over Zoom, but Addabbo is hopeful that they will go back to meeting in Albany in the fall.
“That’s what makes me optimistic that we can use the study this session and do significant legislation to generate revenue with sports betting and possibly even revenue generate with the three licenses this year,” Addabbo said.
Virus could affect NY online sports betting fees
With the delay, the study will incorporate the economic impact that the coronavirus made on the New York gambling industry.
Commercial casinos remain closed and horse racing tracks were just given the green light to reopen. Tribal casinos only recently started reopening after more than two months of closing their doors.
Addabbo’s S 17 includes a one-time fee of $12 million before casinos can offer mobile sports wagering. The bill specifies that the money be paid prior to license issuance, within 30 days of commission approval.
Pretlow and Addabbo also are seeking between $500 million and $700 million in one-time fees for licenses to operate casinos downstate. In hearings, MGM, Las Vegas Sands and the Genting Group (parent company to Resorts World New York) have expressed interest in casino licenses.
The results of the study could show a necessity for lawmakers to work with industry stakeholders on these fees.
“The casinos who will be bidding on mobile sports betting licenses took a hit. The entities who would bid on downstate casino licenses took a hit. That could make it difficult for them to bid on these licenses. But the potential for mobile wagering and downstate gaming remains. Therefore, I don’t think there should be a discount at all, but in the light of the pandemic we can work out some type of payment plan.”
NY mobile sports wagering could reduce cuts
Like many states, New York is facing a massive budget deficit as a result of the coronavirus. The figure was pegged at as much as $15 billion during budget discussions in April, but could still grow.
While mobile sports wagering and casino licenses aren’t going to make up the deficit, Addabbo wants to put them in a revenue bill later this year to lessen cuts to essential services.
“It all boils down to where we are economically, and we are suffering,” Addabbo said. “No one wants to do close to a billion dollars in cuts to healthcare and hundreds of millions in education, especially in an election year. How can you cut healthcare in the midst of a pandemic?
“Tell your Senator or Assemblyman that we can cut healthcare or education, or we can do sports betting. We already have sports betting in our state, we’re just not maximizing its potential.”