New York Sports Betting Being Held Back by Governor Cuomo Until After Election

Posted on: August 9, 2018, 11:00h. 

Last updated on: August 9, 2018, 12:06h.

Sports betting is already legal in New York State — at least at its four upstate commercial casinos, which are awaiting the publication of a framework of temporary regulations by the state Gaming Commission before they can receive the green light.

New York sports betting
Senator John Bonancic believes Governor Cuomo will throw his weight behind sports betting, but not before November’s gubernatorial election. A New York sports betting market would be worth $500 million per year, twice that of Las Vegas. (Image: Mike Groll/AP)

Just when those regulations will appear was a hot topic of debate at the Saratoga Institute on Equine, Racing & Gaming Law Conference in Saratoga Springs on Wednesday. The Times Union reports the general consensus among the gambling industry is that New York’s Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, is sitting the regulations, avoiding anything controversial until after November’s gubernatorial election.

New York voters authorized sports betting at commercial casinos, contingent on a change in federal law, when they authorized the casinos themselves at a 2013 referendum.

There is broad agreement that the regulator has the power to set tax rates and license the four casinos without the need for the legislature to pass a new bill. To permit sports betting on a wider scale, such as at state racetracks, would require additional legislation.

New York Sports Betting Would Be Double Vegas Market

What’s less clear is whether the state gaming commission has the power to authorize mobile sports betting. Senator John Bonacic (R-42nd), who is expected to spearhead the push for full-scale sports betting during the next legislative session, says he believes it doesn’t, which is why more robust legislation is needed.

“When the Gaming Commission comes out with regulations, I really think you’re not going to see a heck of a lot of revenues from sports betting because it will force people to go to the lounge of the four casinos,” Bonacic told the conference.

He added that if sports betting is if offered to all of the state’s existing gambling operators, along with mobile options, the market could be worth $500 million per year — around twice the size of the current Las Vegas market.

Integrity Fee Looks Likely

And assuming Cuomo is reelected in November, Bonacic expects him to fully get behind full-blown sports betting, maybe even including revenue from it in his budget.

Bonacic hinted that the legislation up for consideration in the legislature next year will use the same blueprint as his  bill that failed to pass this year, which called for an 8.5 percent state tax on the revenues and a 0.20 percent “integrity fee” paid by casino operators to major sports leagues.

Should it pass next year in this form, New York would become the first state to legalize sports betting while acceding to the leagues’ demands for a cut of the takings.

The integrity fee is opposed by casinos and gaming interests in the state.