Addabbo Ready to Make His Pitches for NY Mobile Sports Betting, Downstate Casinos

Posted on: March 17, 2021, 10:44h. 

Last updated on: March 17, 2021, 12:53h.

On Wednesday afternoon, New York state lawmakers will begin discussing economic development projects in the budget. Expanded gaming will be among the issues discussed between senators, assembly members, and the Cuomo Administration over the next two weeks.

New York Gaming
New York state Sen. Joe Addabbo (left) meets with Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Over the next two weeks, Addabbo will work to convince the Cuomo Administration to back his plan to expedite the licensing process for downstate casinos, as well as lawmakers’ vision for mobile sports betting. (Image: The Buffalo Chronicle)

There are a couple of gaming issues that need to be settled over the next two weeks. One is mobile sports betting, an issue where there’s some agreement among all sides, although the format remains to be settled. The other is downstate casino licenses.

The latter issue is a little murkier.

The Senate budget plan calls for issuing up to three licenses for New York City or the surrounding area. The Assembly’s version contains no such language, and as for the administration, the governor has said in the past he wants to wait until 2023, which is when the current state law would allow for those licenses to be issued. However, he did say in his State of the State that he’s willing to release a request for information on the subject.

Among the lawmakers who will be settling economic development and gaming issues is state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Queens). Addabbo, who also chairs the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming, and Wagering, talked with Tuesday to discuss what lies ahead in the state’s expanded gaming discussions.

Case for Casinos Rests on ‘Facts’

Addabbo has long called for the downstate casino licenses to be issued earlier than 2023. And with the state and city both dealing with an economic downturn because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said Tuesday that makes an even more compelling case for the casinos.

Not only would the casinos serve as job creators, both in the construction industry and hospitality industry, the latter which took a significant hit in the city over the past year. But Addabbo added the new casinos would produce revenues that would stave off budget cuts and reduce potential tax increases.

What you’re doing is you’re reinvesting in an industry… that gave you across the $4 billion in revenue alone (in 2019), roughly $3 billion to education alone,” Addabbo told “These are the facts. All you have to do is just talk about facts, and hopefully the rational thought will prevail.”

A report published earlier this year by Spectrum Gaming Group estimated three downstate casinos could generate up to $842.1 million in new tax revenue for the state by 2025.

New York Needs ‘Premier’ Mobile Sports Betting Product

For mobile sports betting, Addabbo has an ally on the economic development conference in Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-North Vernon). Pretlow serves as the gaming committee chair in that chamber. Both lawmakers previously filed companion mobile sports betting bills in the legislature this year.

Not coincidentally, the mobile sports betting language in both budget documents are similar. Their plans let each casino partner have two mobile operators, which means there could be as many as 14 sports betting providers in the state.

Cuomo envisions more state control, with New York treating sports betting like the lottery. It would partner with one or maybe more operators and would take a larger share of the revenue.

Addabbo has raised numerous concerns about that kind of approach. Specifically, similar efforts in smaller states have not produced the desired results.

Mobile sports betting is already in the state, the senator said. Many residents already cross over into New Jersey or Pennsylvania for legal betting there. Others, though, remain in the state and either bet with an illegal local bookie or an unregulated offshore sportsbook. Those are the people New York needs to win over with its legal product, the senator said.

“You better have a premier product in New York,” he said. “You need to do that because otherwise they’ll go right back to what they were comfortable doing and going to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or doing it illegally, what have you, and you’ll lose it. So that’s what we have to impress upon the governor.”

New York must have its budget in place by April 1, which is the start of the 2021-22 state fiscal year.