Horse Racing Won’t Be Excluded from New York Sports Betting Legislation: Sen. Addabbo

Posted on: May 14, 2019, 01:15h. 

Last updated on: May 14, 2019, 01:15h.

New York mobile sports betting bill sponsor Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-15th) has denied his legislation would freeze the state’s racetracks out of a future sports-betting market.

New York mobile sports betting
Sen. Joseph Addabbo says he needs to change Gov. Cuomo’s mind on the constitutionality of mobile sports betting before he brings the racetracks back into the mix. (Image: Wall Street Journal)

Speaking during at a hearing for the bill Monday by the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, which he chairs, Addabbo agreed his bill in its current form appears to exclude the racetracks, but explained that he plans to include them in at a later date.

The committee passed the bill unanimously, but some members had deep reservations about the omission of the horse racing industry and its racetracks and off-track betting parlors.

“To say you can help them later, I’m just not sure how because what share is left for them at that point when everything is up and running,” said Sen. Daphne Jordan, as reported by LegalSportsReport this week. “What I’d really like to see is a plan to include those other entities and not three years from now.”

Constitutional Clash

Addabbo’s bill would allow New York’s four upstate casinos to operate mobile sports betting — and by extension its tribal casinos, since they are permitted to offer any type of gaming provided it is legally licensed anywhere else in the state, under the terms of their compacts.

New Yorkers authorized sports betting at the same time they approved an amendment to the constitution to allow commercial casinos upstate, at a 2013 referendum. But New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo believes mobile wagering was not covered by that amendment and would require another public referendum, a process that could take three years.

Addabbo and his associate in the lower chamber, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-89th) , hope to establish via their legislation that mobile betting is constitutional. They believe all mobile betting transactions would be taking place inside the casinos, because that’s where the servers processing the bets would be located.

An earlier version of the bill would have permitted not just racetracks and off-track betting parlors but also other commercial businesses, like sports stadiums, to participate in the market by essentially acting as online “affiliates” of the four casinos.

‘Pieces Missing’

But for Addabbo, it’s a question of don’t run before you can walk. He told the committee his bill will test whether the constitutional argument holds water and whether potential support for it in the legislature can change Cuomo’s mind.

“The way I see it, this is a puzzle that the pieces are still missing,” Addabbo said. “We need to move forward today in order to keep this momentum going, but the bottom line is this may not be the last version of the bill. It all depends on what direction the governor wants to take.”

Last week the committee heard testimony from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming analyst Chris Grove, who estimated that a mature New York market with full-scale mobile sports betting would be worth just over $1 billion. Without mobile the figure would shrink to just $48.3 million, he suggested.

The bill proceeds to the Senate Finance Committee.