New York Lawmakers’ Online Sports Betting Bill Takes Different Approach From Cuomo

Posted on: January 9, 2021, 02:27h. 

Last updated on: January 9, 2021, 05:34h.

Two New York state lawmakers filed legislation on Thursday to legalize mobile sports betting. However, they’re proposing a different format than what Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed earlier in the week.

New York Sports Betting
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a July 2020 COVID-19 briefing. After the governor outlined his sports betting proposal this week, which he’s pursuing because of the financial distress the state’s endured under COVID, two lawmakers filed a competing bill in the state legislature. (Image: Gov. Andrew Cuomo/Flickr)

Under Senate Bill S1183 filed by state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, D-Queens, the state’s four upstate casinos would be able to partner with two mobile operators. There’s also a provision to allow the tribal casinos in the state participate through an opt-in clause.

Those approved to offer mobile sports betting in New York would have to pay a $12 million license fee, and gross revenues from online wagers would be taxed at 12 percent. Bets made at brick-and-mortar sportsbooks would be taxed at 8.5 percent, down from the current 10 percent rate.

State Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, D-Mount Vernon, filed a companion bill in the Assembly.

This is not Addabbo’s first crack at bringing mobile sports betting to the state. He’s tried a couple other times with similar legislation. A bill in 2019 passed the Senate by a 57-5 vote, but the Assembly never took up that bill.

Cuomo, Lawmakers Differ on Sports Betting Approach

The Assembly didn’t act two years ago because at the time, Cuomo had serious reservations about online, saying it required a constitutional amendment.

That viewpoint, though, has changed as New York state finds itself mired in a horrific budget deficit because of COVID-19. Cuomo has indicated repeatedly that the state must fill a $30 billion hole over the next two years. When you factor in the deficits at the local government levels, and with such organizations as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the figure nearly doubles.

And this is where Cuomo and Addabbo and Pretlow now differ.

Cuomo and other officials said Wednesday that the governor wants New York to operate sports betting in a similar fashion as it runs the lottery.

The way the governor’s proposing it and will advance it is so that the state can get up to $500 million a year instead of $50 (million),” state Budget Director Robert Mujica said. “And that money would then go to the state budget.”

The Addabbo and Pretlow bill estimates the state would receive up to $84 million in one-time licensing fees and about $79 million annually in tax revenue. The bill’s fiscal note calls that a “conservative” forecast, with the money supporting education.

New York Could Be Top Dog in Sports Betting

New York with online wagering would almost instantly become the top sports betting market, according to industry analysts.

Neighboring New Jersey holds that honor at the present time. However, industry officials claim that downstate New Yorkers account for about a quarter of the Garden State’s market. With just retail operators at the state’s upstate casino resorts, such states as Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, and Colorado eclipse New York. All of those states have far smaller populations than the Empire State’s 20 million.

Blake Weishaar, an editor with Fantini Research, has said he’s seen estimates that a mature New York market could generate revenues of up to $1 billion.

It’s uncertain, though, if Cuomo’s plan would impact revenue generation. His plans, though, would limit licensed legal operators to as few as one statewide.

More details of the governor’s plan are expected to be released Monday. That’s when Cuomo delivers his state of the state address.