Legalizing mobile NY sports betting is a tale of two vote counts at the moment.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie told mobile sports betting proponent Assemblyman Gary Pretlow there are 69 votes to legalize online betting – seven short of the 76 needed for a majority.
But that doesn’t match Pretlow’s polling, which shows 84 yes votes. That doesn’t include four members that flipped to yes votes since late May because of the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, he said.
The discrepancy “means I have to find out who’s telling me one thing and told him something else, or is he just telling me what he wants to tell me and letting it go at that,” Pretlow said.
Heastie and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have long been reticent to legalize mobile sports betting in the state. Neither Cuomo nor Heastie’s offices responded to multiple requests for comment.
Optimism for mobile NY sports betting
Pretlow and Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. are optimistic that mobile sports betting in New York could be legalized this session, one way or another.
“To be honest with you, to do a separate standalone bill this week, I’d say the odds are more like 100-to-1,” Pretlow said. “To do it in a revenue package, I’d give it 9-to-5 – actually even better than that. I’m pretty sure if we don’t do it one way we’ll do it the other.”
The votes are still there in the Senate, Addabbo added.
“Whenever we get to talk about the possibility that still exists for mobile sports betting this year, it’s a good thing,” Addabbo said. “… I’ll be optimistic today and I’ll try to remain optimistic as we go forward and try to get this thing done.”
Revenue package the likeliest path
Both Addabbo and Pretlow have bills – S 17D and A 6113C, respectively – that would be the vehicle to legalize mobile sports betting. The bills tax mobile revenue at 12% and carve out a 0.2% integrity fee for leagues.
The two expect a package of revenue-raising bills to be necessary to help close a budget shortfall. Mobile sports betting is on the agenda as one of the items that could raise revenue, Pretlow said.
A revenue package likely will be talked about after the state sees how much aid it gets in federal stimulus funds, Addabbo said. This bill could help almost immediately since every mobile sports betting operator would pay a one-time fee of $12 million.
Bills provide protection for New Yorkers
Both legislators emphasized the need for regulated mobile sports betting as the only real way to make sure New Yorkers are protected.
“I’ve always said if you really want to help someone with an addiction you’ve got to identify them first,” Addabbo said. “And right now we can’t. Right now, our New York resident is going to Jersey or doing it illegally – online, offshore accounts – and we don’t know who they are. So we can’t help them. But when we regulate it, with the safeguards that are built into the bill, we can then help those who need help in terms of addiction.”
Pretlow also mentioned other protections such as not providing personal information to an unlicensed company and ensuring winning bets are paid out.
Addabbo said he loved Gov. Cuomo’s “methodical approach” to issues and thinks mobile sports betting can be another issue that changes his mind.
“He would say no to paid family leave and now we have it, he would say no to medical marijuana and now we have it,” Addabbo said. “So this might be another one, where he finally realizes we could do this, we should realize this revenue and stop losing it to other states.”