Pretlow Expects Legislative Online Betting Plan To Beat Out Cuomo’s In Budget

Written By Matthew Kredell on March 16, 2021

As budget negotiations begin between the New York legislative chambers and governor, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow doesn’t anticipate any debate at all on online sports wagering.

Pretlow tells PlayNY that he expects the final New York budget to include the exact sports betting language that the Senate and Assembly put in their one-house budgets Monday.

“The Senate and the Assembly are totally on the same page on this word for word. The only discussion will be between us and the executive branch, and I don’t see them having much time to talk about this point. With COVID, the nursing home investigation and claims of harassment, the governor is dealing with a lot of stuff right now. I’m pretty confident that he’s not going to start playing hardball on sports betting from a position of weakness.”

Gov’s proposal lacks momentum entering budget talks

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in January that he favored a state-run plan with the New York State Gaming Commission taking requests for proposals directly from mobile sports betting operators, it appeared that lawmakers would have to adjust their proposals to better match the governor’s desires.

However, Pretlow said he and Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr., his fellow gaming committee chair, heard from industry representatives and then decided to ignore the governor’s proposal.

“We just eliminated the governor’s proposal because it didn’t make any sense,” Pretlow said. “Every state that’s tried this single-source, lottery-driven platform failed – Oregon’s failed, Washington DC failed, New Hampshire failed. Every one of them has come up short.”

The governor could line-item veto sports betting out of the budget if he doesn’t like the way the legislature handles the issue.

However, as Pretlow mentioned earlier, Cuomo is dealing with personal scandal and other more pressing issues. He doesn’t see this as a topic on which the governor plans to take a stand with his shrinking political capital.

“I don’t think there’s going to be much sports wagering negotiation. The governor does still have the upper hand on it, but I can’t see him going with what he proposes over what we proposed. He’s dealing with a $200 billion budget and this is a small part. I can’t see him spending time haggling over a couple hundred million in sports wagering revenue, especially since everyone who has any interest in sports wagering told him his plan stinks.”

How New York online sports wagering could look

Addabbo and Pretlow opted to include in the budgets proposals the language from their sports betting bills as amended in January. This is the first time the Assembly has gone along with the Senate in putting mobile sports betting in the budget. The Senate did so the past two years.

Key details include:

  • Four commercial casinos and the three gaming tribes may each offer two mobile sports wagering platforms, creating up to 14 online skins.
  • Each mobile sports betting operator pays a $12 million initial fee for a five-year license.
  • Sets up a tiered tax rate of 12% for online, 8.5% for retail.
  • Allows off-track betting parlors, racinos, and sports stadiums/arenas to enter into affiliate agreements with casinos to host sports betting kiosks.
  • Provides professional sports leagues with a 0.2% royalty on handle from all wagers placed on their games.
  • Also mandates that operators use official league data on in-play wagers.
  • Prohibits wagering on college sporting events taking place in state or with New York teams.

New York would become the first state to grant professional sports leagues a royalty for bets placed. However, industry representatives contacted by PlayNY weren’t too bothered by the royalty. They’re much more concerned about having a competitive market, and league support helps.

“We think this is the best, most inclusive proposal of any state in the nation,” Pretlow said. “Everybody is on board with this, including the Native Americans and the sports teams – owners as well as players association. Everyone likes the approach that we took.”

Budget inclusion likely for NY sports betting apps

Pretlow said the Assembly did not include the Senate language on expediting downstate casinos because leadership felt it showed undue favoritism to converting Resorts World and Empire City to full casinos. With the governor and Assembly rejecting the matter, it doesn’t appear that expedited casinos will make the final budget.

However, with legislative unity on mobile sports wagering versus an embattled governor, Pretlow doesn’t see anything standing in the way of the sports betting language making the New York budget.

He’s not even worried that the recent $23.8 billion in federal relief funds for state and local governments could make online sports betting unnecessary.

“That has nothing to do with this,” Pretlow said of the federal aid. “We’re still pushing forward. We tried to do this prior to COVID, prior to federal funds, and we’re going to do it subsequently.”

Pretlow plans to be involved in budget negotiations as a member of the Economic Development Conference Committee. The budget needs to be done before the April 1 beginning of the next fiscal year.

“Right now, my role is to answer any questions that they have,” Pretlow said. “That being said, I’m pretty confident of its passage. I’m fairly confident it will go through exactly as we have it.”

Photo by Nebasin |
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Matthew Kredell

Matthew Kredell reports on efforts to legalize sports wagering and online casino gaming around the country. He covered the multi-year effort to legalize online sports betting in New York from the beginning. He talks to state lawmakers, lobbyists and industry representatives to get the scoop on new gambling developments in the Empire State and was at the forefront when the state budget included the authorization of legal online sports betting in 2021. Matthew has covered the legal gambling industry since 2007, getting into regulated sports betting three years later. An alum of USC, Matthew began his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News. He has also contributed to publications that include Playboy, Men’s Journal and ESPN.

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