NY Lawmaker Questions Cuomo’s Mobile Sports Betting Proposal

NY Lawmaker Questions Cuomo’s Mobile Sports Betting Proposal
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The euphoria, excitement and finally the exhale that came with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s endorsement of mobile sports betting was a step in the right direction Wednesday — until some of his plan’s details emerged later in the day.

New York State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.-D (15th State District and chairman of the Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering), said Thursday he still wanted to work with Cuomo, but had concerns with the governor’s proposal. Addabbo has sponsored sports betting legislation in the past.

“We have a draft of a proposal from both the State Senate and Assembly that is already in place and ready to be moved on. Our proposal sets out to use multiple skins throughout the state, so we can open it up to several platforms,” Addabbo told Gambling.com. “With the governor’s proposal and I’m sure we will hear more on Monday, we went from multiple skins, down to zero, now down to one. Other jurisdictions that have sports betting with one skin do not work. It’s a fact.”

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Addabbo is right. States with lottery-run, single-source sports betting platforms have had numerous issues.

Sports betting is expected to be an important part of Cuomo’s State of the State address. He sees it as part of his efforts to lessen the financial impacts of the current COVID-19 crisis. States are facing major budget shortfalls because of the coronavirus pandemic and sports betting is seen as one way to slice into the deficits. That’s a big step for Cuomo, who has been against sports betting in the past.

News Conference Caused Concern

But questions arose during Wednesday’s news conference where some of the enthusiasm for Cuomo's embrace was tempered after the governor said, "We want to do sports betting the way the state runs the lottery. Where the state gets the revenues. Many states have done sports betting but they basically allow casinos to run their own gambling operations. That makes a lot of money for the casinos but makes minimal money for the state. I’m not here to make casinos a lot of money. I’m here to raise funds for the state. So we have a different model for sports betting.”

State budget director Robert Mujica elaborated on Cuomo's comments immediately thereafter saying “the way the governor is proposing it and will advance is so the state can get up to $500 million a year instead of $50 million and then that money will go to the state budget. Otherwise for the bettors, it is seamless and it is exactly the same. The only difference is the state gets the money versus others. That's the proposal which you will see when the governor puts out his executive budget.”

Addabbo, who has sponsored sports betting legislation in the past, said Wednesday that “It is encouraging to hear that Governor Cuomo will embrace mobile sports betting in his State of the State address. … I look forward to working with the Governor and his office to efficiently implement mobile sports betting for the people of New York.”

’Our Vision Greatly Differs’

But after sleeping on what Cuomo said Wednesday, Addabbo said “our vision greatly differs from theirs.” He said his proposal allows multiple job opportunities which will help the state’s economic crisis and unemployment numbers to decrease due to the current COVID-19 crisis.

“Not only do we have to create more jobs in this state, we have to save the recoup and save the jobs that already exist in the industry in this state,” said Addabbo, referring to the four upstate casinos that also have brick-and-mortar sports betting. “When you have an opportunity like this, we have to take full advantage of all avenues in front of us. One bill does that, the other proposed legislation does not.”

Some of the biggest operators are already aligned with casinos in the state. DraftKings and del Lago Resort Casino in Waterloo; FanDuel and Tioga Downs Casino Resort in Nichols; BetRivers and Rivers Casino in Schenectady; and Caesars has ties to three tribal casinos.

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The New York State Gaming Commission will be able to request proposals to offer mobile sports wagering in the state, according to the governor’s website. The commission will also expand existing integrity programs to ensure any entity operating mobile gaming apps has safeguards against abuses and addiction by individuals.

“We obviously have to see more specific details of what the governor is proposing with his version, but we can’t go down this road again to another stalemate. I think we have to reconsider here the plan he is proposing,” Addabbo said. “We have the cement down already. What we have to do is mold it into something that makes it beneficial for everyone involved.

”Let’s look at the facts and really understand what the gaming industry means to this state and what the expansion of it could be in the future.”

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