No Mobile Sports Betting in NYC in 2019

Despite an extension to the New York legislative session, the mobile sports betting bill is unlikely to pass, with an assemblyman calling the bill “all but dead”. While the session was meant to end on Wednesday, it ended up being extended to include Thursday. However, this did not make much of a difference as the bill will not pass.

New York State Senate Chamber

The Senate extended their session for an extra day to discuss the bill © City & State NY

Earlier this week, the New York State Senate approved a bill to make mobile sports betting legal in the state. It was passed with 57 votes in favour of the bill, and only five votes against it. It was sponsored by Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. and would also allow in-stadium wagering at venues with at least 15,000 seats. Despite the overwhelming win at the Senate, this does not mean that the bill will actually come into being.

The State Assembly met to vote on the bill this week. The session was meant to finish on Wednesday but ended up being extended to include Thursday too. Even so, the bill has come to a complete standstill, with New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo being its biggest opponent. Both he and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie are opposed to the bill as they believe that it is unconstitutional in its current form.

Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow disagree. They believe that the legislative body does not need to determine the legality of online sportsbooks. Addabbo has gone on to say that he sees no clear reason why New York cannot implement mobile sports betting this year. He tweeted: “New York will be stuck like a disabled car on the shoulder, while we allow an illegal sports betting business in our state to thrive and idly watch other neighbouring states pass us with enormous revenue gains from mobile sports betting.”

A tweet from Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr.

The Senator expresses his feelings on online sports betting © Twitter

Unless Cuomo and Carl Heastie change their minds, the only way to get the bill passed would be to have two consecutive legislatures – as in, in two consecutive years – agreeing to send the issue to the voters.

Andrew Cuomo and Joseph Addabbo

Andrew Cuomo is seen as the biggest opposition to the mobile sports betting bill. His stance is that the bill is unconstitutional and so insists that voters state-wide must first approve a constitutional amendment to allow for sports betting to be offered online. During a debate, he said: “I support it under the right places, under the right conditions, and that’s something that has to be looked at and done intelligently, so there are not abuses.”

He has made it clear in interviews that he does not think that sports betting in New York state is of as great an importance as other politicians make out.

“Sports betting, first of all, does not make you that much money. New Jersey has sports betting, it’s on TV all the time. You can’t turn on the darn TV without seeing it. They raised something like $13 million dollars – $13 million dollars is a rounding error in our state. So, I don’t even think the economic benefit is there.”

Despite this statement, the Governor does not oppose all wagering in New York. He has stated that he does see the benefits of casinos, and that there are now casinos where sports betting is available too: “We have sports betting that you can do through a casino and we are trying to support our casinos, which, you know, we did primarily upstate as an economic development vehicle. I’ve never been crazy about casinos, but life is options. Many upstate communities, we have a prison industry or nothing. So, the casinos, especially the way we did it, they are high-paying jobs, they’re jobs with mobility, this would help fortify the upstate casinos.”

On the other side of the fight is Joseph Addabbo. On the finances of the situation, he completely disagrees with Cuomo’s assessment. He tweeted: “I have not witnessed a clear reason why NY can’t implement mobile sports betting this year. Just for the remainder of this fiscal year, we would be losing out on approximately $75 million in revenue, educational funding and both job creation and retention. NJ places its servers in Atlantic City for statewide mobile gaming to comply with its constitution, which we would do in NY with our licensed casinos to comply with our state constitution.”

Offline Sports Betting

Under the current regulations, no online sports betting is permitted in New York state. However, on 10th June 2019, the New York State Gaming Commission did approve rules and regulations to allow sports betting in general in the state.

This ruling has been limited, so there will soon be four commercial casinos which will be allowed to accept sports bets. These are: Resorts World Catskills, Del Lago Resort and Casino, Tioga Downs, and Rivers Schenectady.

The loophole of sorts to the ruling is that due to a previous agreement, tribal casinos are able to offer any game that other casinos in the state can offer. So, they will also be allowed to open sportsbooks. At the moment, the only group making much progress is the Oneida Nation. They do have three properties in New York though, so sports betting will soon also be available at these locations: Turning Stone Resort Casino, Point Place Casino, and Yellow Brick Road Casino. A deal with Caesars is already in place too.

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A mobile phone with sports betting on the screen.

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