New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo brought up sports betting as potential new revenue to help make up a $15 billion budget deficit.
Speaking at his COVID briefing Wednesday, Cuomo seemed to back off his previous reluctance to pursue online sports betting in NY.
“And are there other ways to get revenue?” Cuomo said. “How about marijuana? How about sports betting?”
However, he added that his preference is for New York not to do a revenue bill that could include sports betting this month. Instead, he wants to wait until March in the hope that the state will receive federal funding.
Cuomo changes tone on NY mobile sports betting
Bill sponsors have considered Cuomo a roadblock to legalizing mobile sports betting in New York the past couple of years.
Whenever he referred to mobile sports betting in public, it was to call it irresponsible, or otherwise express doubts on the revenue it would produce.
But with the state facing such a large deficit, momentum to legalize the activity has grown in the legislature. Assemblyman Gary Pretlow told PlayNY that he has a commitment from his chamber’s Speaker to include mobile sports betting in a revenue bill.
It remained unclear where the governor stood on the issue. Just bringing up sports betting as a possible revenue source seems to indicate he would sign a proposal that includes it.
The waiting is the hardest part for New Yorkers
Facing the $15 billion deficit as a result of economic losses due to the pandemic, New York has waited since August to see what the federal government might give states in a COVID-relief stimulus bill.
Cuomo’s comments came after indications that Congress cut state aid out of the stimulus package.
Acknowledging a legislative movement to do a revenue bill this month, Cuomo suggested that lawmakers wait until the spring.
Cuomo believes that incoming President Joe Biden will get the states federal aid by February or March. New York ends its fiscal year March 31.
Cuomo explained that acting now means that the state would have to close the whole $15 billion gap. By waiting for federal aid, fewer cuts and tax increases will be needed. He added that there is no need to do the tax increase this month so that it will go into effect in January rather than 2022. The state can make the tax retroactive.
“I favor waiting until next year because if we close the $15 billion hole this December, I can tell you the cuts to education are going to cause school districts to lay off teachers all across the board,” Cuomo said. “I can tell you hospitals are going to lay off workers. I can tell you the government is going to lay off workers. Just when we’re doing vaccines. Just when we’re fighting the pandemic.”