New York Senate Approves Sports Betting Through Mobile Devices, But Questions Persist if Assembly, Gov. Cuomo Agree

Posted on: June 17, 2019, 05:20h. 

Last updated on: June 17, 2019, 05:20h.

Legislation that permits online sports betting in New York State moved forward on Monday after overwhelming state Senate approval by a 57-5 vote.

New York State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. wants to see his bill that allows for mobile sports betting approved by the Assembly and backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo after Senate approval this week. (Image: New York State Senate)

The bill, S17, could be voted on by the state Assembly later this week. In its way, may be a powerful Democrat opposed to expanded gambling in the Empire State — Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie of the Bronx.

It is also unclear if the measure will be supported by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat. Previously, Cuomo said that allowing online sports bets in the state would require amending the state’s constitution.

Staff working for legislators who support the bill expect the Assembly to pass the legislation sometime this week.  The Assembly version is getting amended, so it is identical to the Senate bill. 

Main sponsor of the proposal, state Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D, Queens) — who is chairman of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering — said in a statement released to the media on Monday he is “delighted … the … Senate has taken this important step towards legalizing sports betting via smart phones and other mobile devices.”

He noted how the New York State Gaming Association earlier this month adopted regulations to allow in-person sports betting at four upstate casinos. The venues are del Lago Resort and Casino in Tyre, Resorts World Catskills in Kiamesha Lake, Rivers in Schenectady, and Tioga Downs and Casino in Nichols. The state’s tribal casinos can also apply for in-person licenses.

It makes sense to approve the legislation, Addabbo contends. “Adding mobile wagering to the mix will go far in capturing revenues that might otherwise continue to flow across the border to New Jersey,” Addabbo said.

Experiences in other states have demonstrated that implementing sports betting without a mobile component leaves those states where people cannot wager with their phones or other devices at a competitive disadvantage,” Addabbo explained.

Earlier, Addabbo said allowing only in-person sports betting without the mobile component barely “scratches the surface” of its potential in the state. “And … as an optimist, I do believe we can do it this year,” he said in the prior statement.

“Ultimately, I hope the Governor will choose to embrace the great benefits that sports betting, including the mobile component, will bring to New York…,” Addabbo said.

Also, legal mobile sports betting will “put a serious dent” in underground and illegal wagering, he added. It also will lead to new jobs, expanded revenue for education — and addresses risks associated with compulsive gambling, Addabbo said.

Tax Revenue, Licensing Fees

Under the bill, operators will pay a license fee of $12 million per venue. Casinos will pay a state tax of 8.52 percent of gross sports wagering revenue. Beyond that, mobile sports wagering revenue will be taxed at 12.5 percent on gross revenue.

Any sports bettor must be in the State of New York when placing a wager on athletics. The server used by a mobile sports wagering operator must be located in the casino.

Native American nations can also opt-in to participate in mobile sports wagering. Tribal mobile sports wagering revenues will be subject to taxes at the same rate as the state’s licensed casinos.

The bill is likely to raise between $810 million and $30 million annually for New York State education. The state could receive $48 million in licensing fees from operators.

Earlier Attempt Failed

In an unsuccessful attempt to approve mobile sports betting earlier this year, political leaders did not approve including it in the $175.5 billion state budget which went into effect in April. The US Supreme Court paved the way for sports betting in May 2018 when it ruled the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act unconstitutional in Murphy v. NCAA. Since then, several states have approved sports betting.