New York Sports Betting Bill Appears Dead in State Assembly for 2018

Posted on: June 15, 2018, 10:00h. 

Last updated on: June 15, 2018, 10:17h.

On the same day that neighboring New Jersey opened its first sportsbooks, a prominent New York politician announced that his fellow legislators were unlikely to support a sports betting bill in 2018.

New York sports betting
New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Haestie says there are too many issues and too little time to pass a sports betting bill this year. (Image: Susan Watts/New York Daily News)

New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) told reporters on Thursday that there probably wasn’t enough support in the Democratic Conference – which makes up the majority of the Assembly – to move forward with legislation that would expand sports betting in the state.

Gambling Expansion, Integrity Fees Prove Controversial

According to Heastie, discussions with his fellow Democrats brought up a variety of different issues. Those concerns include adding more gambling to a state that has rapidly expanded its betting options in recent years, concerns about the impact sports betting could have on the integrity of games, and opposition to the idea of paying an integrity fee to professional sports leagues.

In order to pass a bill this year, the Assembly would have to vote on it before the state legislature adjourns its session on Wednesday. New York lawmakers aren’t scheduled to go back into session until 2019.

“I don’t know if a week is enough,” Heastie told reporters. “Sometimes that can be a lifetime. But the broad spectrum of concerns members raised, I don’t know if that can be resolved.”

Assemblywoman Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan) was particularly concerned with how betting could impact the perception of integrity in professional sports, and said that these issues were not addressed in the current bill.

“In the first game of the NBA final, if we had sports betting, everybody would have thought that player threw the game,” Glick told The Buffalo News, referring to J.R. Smith’s decision to run out the clock in regulation with the score tied.

Can Amendments Save the Day?

The situation in the state Senate may be more promising. According to State Senator John Bonacic (R-Orange County), there is likely enough support to pass the bill in his chamber. However, he has also said that the Republican-controlled Senate won’t take up the legislation unless it first passes in the Assembly.

In an effort to address some of the concerns from Assembly lawmakers, Bonacic and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-Mount Vernon) are adding some amendments to the bill. The proposed integrity fees will be lowered from 0.25 percent of the amount bet on a league’s games to 0.15 percent, while also allowing each licensee to operate only a single online betting platform.

“I think that there’s time to convince people sitting on the fence,” Pretlow told The Buffalo News. “I also think the governor might want to take credit for this but I don’t think we’re getting that much support [from the governor’s office].”

Unlike in some other states, New York may see sports betting soon regardless of what the legislature decides to do. When New York passed a constitutional amendment to allow for four upstate commercial casinos in 2013, language was included that made it legal for those venues to offer sports betting should federal regulations change.

Those casinos could start operating sportsbooks as soon as the New York State Gaming Commission creates a regulatory framework for the practice. The bill under consideration in the legislature would allow for online betting, and would allow racetracks and OTB parlors to partner with those casinos to also offer sports betting.