Addabbo Confident New York Mobile Sports Betting Can Launch This Year
Posted on: February 15, 2021, 10:16h.
Last updated on: February 16, 2021, 11:06h.
New York state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, Jr. (D-Queens), the lawmaker spearheading the push for the Empire State to embrace mobile sports betting, doesn’t just believe the state legislature will pass a bill soon to expand sports betting in the state.
He also believes the first bets could take place later this year.
“I remain optimistic that should it be in the budget April 1st, with a little initiative, our state government can get it up and running by Sept. 9th, which is the first day of the NFL football season,” Addabbo told Casino.org in an interview.
It’s been nearly three years since the US Supreme Court opened the door for sports betting nationwide. New York did take advantage and approve retail licenses for its four upstate casino resorts. In addition, Class III tribal casinos are also allowed to offer sportsbooks on their properties.
However, analysts and observers point out that New York misses out on a significant revenue stream, since it does not allow mobile applications.
For example: According to the New York State Gaming Commission, the four retail sportsbooks in the state generated revenue totaling nearly $3.6 million in January. Over the same month, Indiana – a state with roughly a third of New York’s population – saw its mobile and retail operators earn $29.3 million in taxable revenue.
The senator said New York usually leads the way when it comes to state policy.
“We’re that car in the right lane with four wobbly wheels, and we’re limping along,” Addabbo said. “And these other fast cars like (New) Jersey and Pennsylvania are whizzing by us. That’s an odd spot for New York to be in.”
Sports Betting Part of NY Budget Talks
A recent study by Spectrum Gaming estimated that mobile sports betting could generate more than $1 billion in gross revenue for New York operators. If the state sets the tax rate at 10 percent, that would mean more than $100 million in annual revenue.
Addabbo’s bill, Senate Bill S1183, as well as legislation sponsored by state Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-Mount Vernon), sets the rate an 8.5 percent. However, that rate, like other portions of the bill, are open to negotiation, the senator said.
The senator also noted that the original sports betting bill he filed a couple of years ago gave each casino one skin. Now, the bill offers them two, which means a potential of 14 skins, or mobile operators, for the state once the three downstate casinos are awarded.
I think that’s all part of the budget negotiations,” Addabbo told Casino.org. “How many skins and the license fee and the tax rate that is all part and parcel of the budget negotiations. It’s all part of the discussions that we’re going to have, and that’s where we’ll have to come to some agreement.”
Still, time is of the essence.
April 1, the start of New York’s budget year, is just 45 days away as of Monday. While that’s six and a half weeks, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters Monday, “in government, 45 days is a blink of an eye.”
Addabbo Concerned State-Run System Can’t Meet Demand
The good news is that Cuomo is on board with expanding sports betting in the state to include online applications. The bad news is, his vision for sports betting varies significantly from that of Addabbo and Pretlow. Those lawmakers chair the gaming committees in the respective chambers.
Both lawmakers’ bills call for New York to operate sports betting like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. Each of the state’s casinos currently would get the chance to partner with two mobile operators.
Cuomo, though, wants the state to be in more control. He wants a system more like the lottery, allowing the state to derive more of the revenue. That approach resembles what Rhode Island, Montana, New Hampshire, Delaware, and Oregon have implemented.
As Addabbo indicated, though, those states combined have a smaller population than New York.
“I’m concerned about New York having a product that can handle the volume and the growing, expanding the market,” Addabbo told Casino.org.
He also noted that Oregon leaders are already having second thoughts about their lottery-managed sports betting product.
Just last month, Gov. Kate Brown requested that the state’s legislature take up a bill allowing the Oregon Racing Commission to regulate sports betting and grant licenses.
“So, if it’s not good enough for Oregon, I don’t think it should be good enough for New York,” Addabbo said.
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