New York Lawmaker Optimistic About Mobile Sports Betting
Sen. Joseph Addabbo, who has fought for more than two years to bring mobile sports betting to New York, is optimistic that something can be done in the legislature this year.
Addabbo, speaking on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom podcast Tuesday, said he hopes legislation can be passed this year so the state doesn’t miss out on another Super Bowl or March Madness, the two biggest sports betting opportunities of the year.
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“Our fans are ready. They are tired of going to Jersey and they are tired of having that offshore illegal account,” Addabbo said on the podcast with host David Lombardo.
The renewed push for mobile sports betting comes as New York, like every state, is facing a huge budget deficit because of the coronavirus pandemic and is looking at new revenue streams. While sports betting is legal at four upstate casinos and at tribal casinos, online sports betting has been a non-starter, mainly because of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s opposition.
Addabbo said that it needs to get done this year to recognize the revenue. He said the state is in dire need of “consistent, real revenue.”
As Addabbo noted, New York sees a huge amount of revenue go to New Jersey. One of the largest sports betting markets in the country. New Jersey was seeing 90% of sports bets being placed by mobile devices before coronavirus shut down casinos and sports across the U.S.
A study released in early 2020 showed that New Yorkers placed $837 million in sports bets in New Jersey last year, according to published reports. That was one-fifth of the $4.6 billion that was bet in New Jersey in 2019, the study showed. Addabbo also said New York was also losing money to the illegal offshore sportsbooks.
A report in the New York Post last week said that Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who had been an opponent of mobile sports betting, was polling state lawmakers to see where they stand on this issue.
Yet Cuomo has resisted allowing online sports betting in his state. In his 2021 budget released in January, the allowance was made for betting outside of casino sportsbooks but still within the walls of the casino. That was the extent of expanding gaming. Online sports betting was not included.
The question over whether a constitutional amendment is required to allow mobile sports betting in New York has been debated. But Addabbo on Tuesday said sports betting would be constitutional and an amendment is not needed.
He said the fact that the legislature is not doing a constitutional amendment this week is an indication that it should be part of the next revenue package. He said it gives the state a “clear path” to mobile sports betting this year.
A constitutional amendment to allow mobile sports betting would require votes by two successive legislatures and then it would have to go before voters for their approval, according to The Post. Cuomo has maintained that a constitutional amendment is necessary.
Addabbo said he would like to see the state realize short- and long-term benefits from mobile sports betting, but cautioned that it won’t fix all of the budget problems. Also, regulations need to be put in place.
“It’s not a light switch, where you turn it on and the money flows in,” he said on the podcast.
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