Stadium and Racetrack Sports Betting Back on the Agenda in New York But the Mets Would Miss Out

Posted on: June 7, 2019, 10:17h. 

Last updated on: June 7, 2019, 10:17h.

On Monday, the New York Gaming Commission will vote to approve its framework of regulation for sports betting. If signed off as expected, it will authorize the state’s commercial and native American casinos to commence sports book operations.

New York sports betting
Governor Andrew Cuomo is unconvinced of the arguments that mobile and kiosk-based sports betting would be acceptable under the New York State Constitution because servers would be based in casinos. (Image: John Lamparski/WireImage)

But mobile sports betting will not form part of the framework, despite the best efforts of two lawmakers to argue for its inclusion. Having failed to convince Gov. Andrew Cuomo that mobile could be implemented without the need for a constitutional amendment, Sen. Joe Addabbo (D-15th) Rep. J. Gary Pretlow (D-89th) have been hoping to convince the legislature via their sports betting bill.

With the time ticking down on the legislative clock – last day, June 19 – Addabbo and Pretlow have once again reshaped the bill in a bid to make it more palatable to the legislature.

Reacting to concerns last month from members of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, which Addabbo chairs, that the bill appeared to exclude the horse racing industry from a future mobile sports betting market, Addabbo and Pretlow have reverted to an earlier, more inclusive version.

Why Not the Mets?

If passed, as it stands the bill would allow select commercial businesses to partner with the state’s casinos to offer in-person kiosk-based sports betting as “affiliates” — which could pave the way for wagering not only at racetracks but also at venues like the Yankee Stadium and Madison Square Garden.

In return, casinos would take a commission on those bets and would be permitted to offer odds on horse racing.

Under the bill, a sports stadium can only be an affiliate in a county where there is no other affiliate, and the horse racing industry takes precedent, which means the Mets’ Citi Field in Queens would not be able to participate because of the Aqueduct Racetrack.

All of this may be moot, of course. With less than two weeks to go Addabbo and Pretlow’s bill is a heavy lift and even if it is approved by the legislature, it will need sign-off from a reluctant governor.

Cuomo a Skeptic

Addabbo and Pretlow believe the affiliate system works from a constitutional perspective. New York residents authorized sports betting in 2013 when they voted to legalize commercial casino gaming, an amendment authored by Pretlow, who admits he lacked the foresight to include mobile in the bargain.

That’s why the four upstate casinos that have since been built are free to launch sports books once the regulatory framework is signed off, and native American casinos can also do so because they are permitted to offer any kind of gaming that is available elsewhere in the state under the terms of their compacts.

Cuomo believes that anything else would need another public referendum.

Addabbo and Pretlow argue that all mobile and kiosk-based betting transactions would be taking place inside casinos because that’s where the servers processing the bets would be located.

Both the legislature and the governor need to swallow this argument for things to happen, and the governor is a skeptic. It would also face legal challenges from anti-gambling groups were it to become law. It remains a longshot.