An expanded mobile NY sports betting market is not expected to make the state budget, according to Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr.
“It turns out that you don’t tinker with something that’s successful and it may be premature,” Addabbo told LSR Wednesday. “So we threw it out there, we looked at it, we analyzed it a little bit and said, ‘You know what, it may be premature. So let’s do this, let’s take a look at this maybe six or seven months down the road and see what happens.’”
That means there will likely remain just nine licensed mobile New York sportsbooks for the foreseeable future. Negotiations on the budget could continue into the weekend, Addabbo said.
Mobile NY sports betting brings big tax dollars
The biggest concern about expanding the market, which launched in January, is how tax dollars would be affected. Operators paid more than $105 million in taxes for January and February alone. Another $50 million could come from March’s operations.
The initial proposal from Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow suggested lowering the tax rate based on the tax matrix that emerged from the initial bidding process over the summer. But with 16 operators as suggested, the tax rate would have dropped to 25% from the current national-high 51%.
That did not make a ton of fiscal sense, though. The New York State Gaming Commission already decided not to license bet365 as the 10th operator even though it would have only dropped the tax rate to 50%, as it was unclear its inclusion would grow state revenue.
One-house budgets considered no tax change
The expansion proposal in both the Senate and Assembly’s one-house budgets did not include the drop in tax rate, but even that was not enough for a change this year.
For Addabbo, there was success in simply discussing the topic.
“I was so proud of the legislature to even think about expanding it, Gary Pretlow and I always think about more skins, more operators. So we stand at the ready to make a product better for the people of New York. It’s not, ‘Oh we’re so successful with mobile sports betting, we’re done.’ No. It’s so competitive with other states and the illegal market. So you always try to figure out a way to make it better.”
New governor, new NY sports betting attitude
Gov. Kathy Hochul‘s administration has been much more open to discussing gaming issues than former Gov. Andrew Cuomo‘s was, Addabbo said. This year’s budget likely will include New York City-area casinos, something Cuomo refused to discuss in the past.
That means Addabbo will keep thinking about how to safely expand sports betting in NY, whether that is with more operators or more options like fixed-odds horse betting:
“You want to maximize your potential. So yeah, I think under this administration our eyes have got to be wide open to how we do this in a safe, methodical way to benefit the people of New York.”