Cuomo Still Short On Details, Savvy For Mobile NY Sports Betting Proposal

Posted on April 5, 2021

Negotiations over mobile NY sports betting continue but Gov. Andrew Cuomo certainly made it sound like the issue is decided.

Cuomo told reporters there’s a “conceptual agreement on all things” in the state’s $200 billion budget. That includes legalizing mobile sports betting in New York under his plan, it seems:

“There are two ways to do it. You can give casinos the right to run mobile sports betting. You take the casinos in the state and you give them the license to run mobile sports betting and then they operate it and they make the profits. They would pay taxes to the state but the casinos make the profits.

“The second way to do it is the way we do the state lottery. We will contract directly with the mobile sports vendor, FanDuel, DraftKings … we’ll contract with them and we’ll make the money. We don’t need the casinos as a middleman. That’s the first point of contention: should you let the casinos make the money or should the state make the money directly? My position is the state should make the money directly and then let the state decide what to do with it.”

It’s worth noting Cuomo said vendor, not vendors, though Director of the Budget Rob Mujica later said entities. Some legislators including Assemblyman Gary Pretlow are concerned the governor’s approach to sports betting would leave the state with just one mobile sportsbook.

That’s why Pretlow wants a mandatory review if Cuomo’s model passes but fails to generate the returns his office predicts.

Mujica: Want Oneidas in mobile NY sports betting

Cuomo and Mujica didn’t sound fazed over reports the state could lose tens of millions of dollars annually from the Oneida Indians if Cuomo’s sports betting plan succeeds.

The Oneida have gaming exclusivity in 10 counties following a 2013 settlement with the state. They reportedly argued any bets placed in those counties would go against that agreement if the Oneida are not involved in sports betting.

Cuomo responded sarcastically when asked about the issue:

“Is that what the legislator said, that I want to cost Oneida County $20 million a year? Boy how arbitrary and capricious must that be of me [chuckles]. How unreasonable, that governor.”

Mujica then added the premise of the question is factually wrong.

“We want all the counties to participate, we want the Oneidas to participate,” Mujica said. “We want to honor all the terms of existing compacts and we’re actively working to draft legislation that will reflect all of those principles.”

Where a bet is placed crucial in New York

Mujica later added that issue of where a bet is placed isn’t as clear-cut as he and Cuomo want it to sound:

“As the governor described, the question is if there’s a bet that takes place and physically if the person happens to be in a part of the state, where does that bet actually take place. And these are legal questions.

“We think at the end of the day we want to come up with an agreement that respects the views of the Oneidas as well as all the counties and make sure the revenue goes back both to the state and gets shared in different ways.”

The other issue of where a bet is placed in New York, of course, is that the casinos are required for sports betting to be allowed under the state constitution. Cuomo’s repeatedly said he believes any betting outside of a casino would require a constitutional amendment. If Cuomo’s office isn’t considering an amendment then it’s presumably working with the idea that the bets are placed at the location of the server, which could be located in a casino.

That means the state needs at least one casino more than it’s admitting right now.

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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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