Pretlow Bids for New York Sports Betting

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow wants sports betting for New York but admits there are significant legal issues in his way. (Image: Jefferson Siegel/New York Daily News)

New York Assemblyman Gary Pretlow wants to bring legal sports betting to New York State. Pretlow was instrumental in orchestrating the regulation of daily fantasy sports in New York and sees no reason to quit while he’s on a roll.

Pretlow told the Democrat Chronicle this week that, like New Jersey in recent years, he wanted to test federal opposition to sports betting, and more specifically PASPA, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act 1992, which       

“I’m considering this year putting in legislation similar to New Jersey’s legislation, and hopefully it gets to court in the Second Circuit, and hopefully we get a different opinion,” he said. “I am a believer in legalizing sports betting.”

Concern About “Vice Bills”

But first a legislative push would have to convince both chambers that legal sports betting is the right thing for New York, at a time when the state is wary of passing more so-called “vice bills,” following the legalization of casino gaming, MMA and now DFS. The question of legalizing sports betting would also probably require an amendment to the state constitution by public referendum.

“Any discussion of legalizing sports betting in NY is premature at this point,” Pretlow conceded. “There are significant legal issues to consider before undertaking this endeavor.”

It’s difficult to see how New York could succeed in the federal courts, where New Jersey has failed at every turn. Earlier this month, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit blocked New Jersey’s attempt to offer sports betting at its casinos and racetracks once again, ruling that it would be a violation of PASPA.

PASPA “Not Fair”

“It’s not fair that only one state is allowed to legally take sports bets,” Pretlow said, inaccurately.

While Nevada is the only state that offers full-scale sports betting, Oregon, Delaware and Montana are also legally permitted to do so, having being exempted by PASPA because they had already legalized prior to the passage of the bill in 1992. Delaware offers limited sports betting at its racetracks, while Oregon and Montana simply choose not to.

The American Gaming Association, which advocates for the legalization and licensing of sports betting, has said that 80 percent of Super Bowl viewers are in favor of regulation, while 65 percent believe regulated sports betting will either strengthen the integrity of games or have no impact on game outcomes.

“This law [PASPA] has failed miserably,” said AGA Chairman Geoff Freeman recently. “Americans spend an estimated $150 billion a year betting on sports, only 3 percent of it legally.”