New York Lawmakers Want to Fast Track Online Sports Betting

New York Lawmakers Want to Fast Track Online Sports Betting
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There is still hope.

With a full month to go before 2021, three key players behind the push for online sports betting in New York made their case Tuesday to fast track legislation.

And the possibility of that happening this month could still be in the works.

“This would definitely be a good item to bet on whether we meet in 2020 or 2021,” said State Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow-D (District 89), one of two proponents of sports betting legislation in the state. “The idea I'm hearing is that we won’t be going back (state legislature) to regular session until a COVID-19 vaccine is widely spread, so we might not be meeting until middle-to-end of March. The state budget is due on April 1, so a lot has to be done between now and then.”

The hope lies below.

“We are looking at huge revenue shortages for the state, the same as other states are enduring, so sports betting will add something to what we are trying to do especially toward revenue back to our educational system,” Pretlow said on a panel during the first day of the Betting on Sports America virtual conference. “We do have to do a revenue bill, between now and the end of the year, and I’ve been told by the Speaker of the Assembly that sports betting will be part of that revenue bill.”

In October, neighboring New Jersey topped $800 million in total sports betting handle, setting another national record. The new mark of $803.1 million broke its previous state and national total handle record of $748.6 million set in September. The $54.5 million increase was 7.3% better than September’s total.

New York sports betting had gross gaming revenue of $2.6 million in October from its retail-only market.

“I really wanted to do this by the end of the year because of the need we have for it,” said New York State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.-D (15th State District and chairman of the Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering), another proponent of sports betting legislation. “If it is in the budget, our budget gets enacted in April and we will miss the Super Bowl and March Madness — two huge sporting events that people bet on — so I would like to do this as quickly as possible, sooner than later.”

Number of Skins Debated

Much work has been done on making the bill better with additional amendments, Addabbo said.

“We have made amendments to try and make the bill better, including that of skins per casino. Right now, New York has zero skins,” Addabbo said. “We start off with one in the bill, we will see where it goes because there is additional revenue with additional skins.”

Pretlow said he disagrees with the number of skins.

“I have advocated that we have two skins per because it increases revenue to the state. You don’t have to use them all,” Pretlow said. “Right now, I would like to see two per casino, so 14 total. This way the opportunity to use them would be there, rather than limiting ourselves.”

Online Boosts New Jersey Numbers

Jeffrey Gural owns the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, New Jersey, which has the state’s largest brick-and-mortar and online sportsbook, FanDuel. He also is chairman of American Racing and Entertainment, LLC, which owns Tioga Downs Casino and Vernon Downs Casino (both of which have harness racing tracks in upstate New York). He knows the importance of what sports betting can mean for a business, but also what it means in the midst of a pandemic.

“Clearly, our business has seen a shift from coming to The Meadowlands for an in-person experience to online. We still have a decent handle, but online has saved the day for me,” he said. “This (COVID-19) has been a nightmare. For me, having online sports betting in New Jersey has saved the day.”

Mobile was 92.6% of New Jersey’s $803 million sports betting handle in October.

Gural also said it would help New York right now, as the brick-and-mortar sportsbooks in upstate New York do not have a lot of heavy traffic, along with handle. He said he fears that people are betting illegally or are going across the border to bet in Pennsylvania.

“I’ve always been a big believer in common sense,” he said. “Three hundred million was handled at The Meadowlands recently and $100 million of it came from New Yorkers who made the trip over or crossed the border to bet online here.”

Stay tuned.

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