Clock Is Ticking For NY Online Sports Betting As Senate Proposes Middle Ground With Cuomo

Written By Matthew Kredell on March 29, 2021

Facing an unbending governor in the final days of budget negotiations, the New York Senate has proposed a hybrid plan for legalizing NY sports betting apps.

Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. tells PlayNY that the Senate made the hybrid proposal after the governor refused to budge on a state-run online sports wagering model.

“The administration stuck to preferring their plan,” Addabbo said. “We like our plan. We actually gave them a hybrid model, trying their structure with our skins and everything else.”

By Tuesday morning, Addabbo hopes the governor will accept the hybrid proposal or fill in details for the proposal he laid out in the executive budget.

Cuomo rejects legislative mobile sports betting model

Entering budget negotiations two weeks ago, lawmakers were optimistic that the governor would just accept the legislative proposal for sports wagering. After all, sports betting was a small part of New York’s budget and he was dealing with more important issues.

However, he has not budged from the proposal he made in the executive budget. The problem is he also hasn’t provided the legislature with any further language to flesh out his model.

Here’s the main passage on mobile sports betting in the executive budget:

“Mobile sports wagering shall be permitted by the commission through a platform provider or providers selected pursuant to a competitive bidding process conducted by the commission. The winning platform provider or providers shall use the technology necessary to ensure all bettors are physically within approved locations within the state and ensure the necessary safeguards against abuses and addictions are in place.”

Both chambers of the legislature pitched an inclusive model run through the New York commercial casino industry with participation from Native American tribes, sports stadiums, horse tracks, off-track betting parlors and video lottery terminal facilities. PlayNY explained the differences between the models and how NY casinos are involved in this white paper.

“We’ve asked the governor for details and we’re waiting to hear back,” Addabbo said. “Our bill laid out in painstaking detail who can participate and how it will go. With the governor’s proposal, we’re trying to get him to give us some detail, something he’s had months to give us but waits to the last minute.”

How a NY hybrid mobile sports betting model could work

Addabbo didn’t want to give many details of the hybrid plan as the negotiations are ongoing. He said it tried to work with the governor’s request-for-proposal model but specify the number of skins.

“It’s basically a piece of their proposal and a piece of ours to try to work out something built on the common ground that we both want to do mobile sports betting,” Addabbo said. “The hybrid deal came from us, because we saw an impasse with nothing moving and wanted to propose something.”

The legislative plan starts with 14 skins, two for each commercial casino and gaming tribe. The governor’s proposal allows the gaming commission to choose as few as one online sports betting operator. That would be unprecedented for a state the size of New York.

The intention is to make Cuomo’s plan more inclusive of the existing New York gambling industry.

“We’re trying to figure out a common ground here, but you can’t negotiate with yourself,” Addabbo said. “We’re looking at the governor’s office to negotiate.”

Future of NY mobile sports betting will be known soon

Details of Cuomo’s mobile sports betting proposal should be known in the next 24 hours. To have the budget done by the April 1 start of the fiscal year, the governor needs to put the budget language in front of the legislature by Tuesday morning.

The budget has to be printed tomorrow so the legislature can start voting on it Wednesday. Usually, bills must age three days, but the governor can issue a message of necessity to bypass that delay.

“In the next 24 hours, we’ll either build on this house of cards or it will all fall apart,” Addabbo said.

There appear to be four possible ways this could go:

  1. Cuomo wants mobile sports betting done his way but provides the legislature more details on his vision.
  2. The administration accepts the hybrid proposal made by the Senate.
  3. The governor asks the legislature to accept his vague proposal.
  4. Cuomo decides it’s not worth negotiating and pulls mobile sports betting from the budget entirely.

Addabbo doesn’t think option three would fly with the legislature.

“I’m a detail person, especially with something as complex as mobile sports betting, “Addabbo said. “I like detail, silly me, especially for our budget, especially for our people. To agree on something that doesn’t have much detail would be hard for me to embrace.”

He added that he can’t say until he sees language if he’d rather accept the governor’s proposal or push for the legislative option following the budget period.

“When they give me something to look at, I’ll look at all the options,” Addabbo said. I’ll make my decision when I see whatever they give us. But the window is closing.”

Photo by Dreamstime.com
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Matthew Kredell

Matthew has covered efforts to legalize and regulate online gambling since 2007. His reporting on the legalization of sports betting began in 2010 with an article for Playboy Magazine on how the NFL was pushing US money overseas by fighting the expansion of regulated sports betting. A USC journalism alum, Matt started his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News and has written on a variety of topics for Playboy, Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.

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