New York Mobile Sports Betting Bill Revised, But Lawmakers Preserve Leagues’ Cut of the Action

Posted on: May 6, 2019, 10:24h. 

Last updated on: May 10, 2019, 02:48h.

A pair of New York sports betting bills that two Democratic lawmakers hope will legalize mobile wagering in the state have been fine-tuned and were reintroduced to the legislature at the end of last week.

New York sports betting
Gary Pretlow told the Betting on Sports America conference last week that he could have legalized mobile sports betting in 2013 but didn’t have the foresight to include it in a constitutional amendment that legalized casinos and land-based wagering in New York. (Image: Mark Vergari/The Journal News)

Representative Gary Pretlow (D-89th) and Senator Joe Addabbo (D-15th) believe that New York does not need to change the constitution by public referendum to authorize mobile sports betting and that their two identical companion bills will do the trick. Governor Andrew Cuomo disagrees.

Among the amendments to the bills is a provision setting the license fee at $12 million. That would be the highest in the US, but since New York has the population to quickly eclipse Nevada and New Jersey as the biggest sports betting market in the country, there may be some justification for this.

It also adds a 12 percent tax on gross gaming revenue for mobile betting specifically. Land-based wagering will remain at 8.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the bill stipulates that bettors’ accounts will be frozen when they exceed $2,500 in deposits until the customer acknowledges the milestone and is given the option of establishing responsible gaming deposit limits or closing the account.

Throw Us Bone

But the lawmakers resisted the temptation to scrap the controversial “integrity fee” – a cut requested by the leagues for bets on their games, which Pretlow has more-accurately renamed “a loyalty fee.”

Should the legislation pass in its current form, New York would be the only state thus far to accede to the leagues’ demands.

Speaking as a panel guest at the Betting on Sports America (BOSA) conference at the Meadowlands Expo Center in New Jersey last week, Pretlow said he felt it was important to keep the leagues happy.

“I do think that the leagues supply the product, and they should be entitled to something,” he said. “And they will experience some additional expenses. Now, it’s been said that the value of sports betting is going to increase [the leagues’ revenues] exponentially. But to keep labor peace, peace in the world, peace in the Middle East — I threw them a bone.”

Pretlow’s Oversight

Pretlow and Addabbo argue that mobile wagering would be constitutional because it would effectively be taking place inside casinos because that’s where the servers will be based.

New Yorkers authorized land-based sports betting in 2013 when they approved the creation of four upstate casinos, but Pretlow — who authored the 2013 casino amendment — admitted last week at BOSA he did not have the foresight to include mobile in the casino amendment.

The two lawmakers have so far failed to convince Cuomo of the merits of their constitutional argument. The Governor’s Office is adamant that a public referendum is needed, a process that could take up to three years.

Rhode Island recently used a similar argument to Pretlow’s and Addabbo’s when it passed laws to legalize mobile wagering in March, although Republican leaders recently filed a lawsuit challenging the legal reasoning behind those laws.