Legislators Assign Old Online Sports Betting Bills As Statement To Regulators

Written By Matthew Kredell on January 7, 2022

As legal New York online sports betting readies for launch, lawmakers want to make sure regulators know they’re keeping watch.

That’s why NY online sports betting bills introduced last year received committee referrals Wednesday.

The legislative actions took place a day before the New York State Gaming Commission announced that four online sportsbooks could begin taking bets Saturday.

“I think our work on sports betting is done in a certain respect, but it’s also just beginning,” Addabbo said. “I think it’s important to show that we’re cognizant that we have to evaluate this law and make sure it hits its intended target. We stand at the ready to make changes if we have to.”

Committee referrals more for show

Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow once hoped Senate Bill 1183 and Assembly Bill 1257 would form the framework for online sports betting in New York.

The bills made New York’s casinos the focal point for online sports betting. However, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo opted for a model with limited online sportsbooks contracting directly with the state.

About 30% of the legislative bills made it into the budget language, mostly on problem gambling protocols.

Since 2021 bills that did not pass carried over to the 2022 session, SB 1183 and AB 1257 remained live. But with New York choosing to go another way with online sports betting, they have no relevance.

Still, lawmakers assigned the Senate bill to Addabbo’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee. The same day, Pretlow’s bill went to Codes.

Addabbo and Pretlow have made it clear that the New York online sports betting model is not what they wanted. Though they are embracing it with an open mind, bumping their old bills serves as a reminder that there could be another way.

Zombie bills aren’t going anywhere

While the legislative model for online sports betting surprisingly got revived, it’s not going anywhere.

It makes no sense to pass another way of doing sports wagering when New York has committed to trying the state-centric model.

They merely serve as a reminder that lawmakers will be evaluating how mobile sports betting goes in the state. But Addabbo tells PlayNY that evaluation won’t happen this year.

“This is a marathon, not a sprint, so it’s something we have to look at over a period of time,” Addabbo said. “So I’m thinking maybe after one year, we’ll see how we faired. You want to go by data, not by emotion or opinion.”

Online sports betting evaluation to take place in 2023

Addabbo expects to hold a hearing in his committee in 2023 evaluating the first year of New York online sports wagering.

“There will be benchmarks,” Addabbo said. “We’ll look at the Super Bowl numbers when they come out in March, and the March Madness numbers in April. By the end of the year, we’ll see how New York did.”

Central to their analysis will be how the 51% tax rate impacts revenue. Many residents of New York City have gone across the George Washington Bridge for years to place bets in New Jersey. Or they wager with illegal bookies. If the high tax rate affects lines and promotions, New York could fail to capture much of the existing market.

Cuomo’s administration budgeted for the state to make $99 million in fiscal year 2022, $357 million in FY 2023 and $500 million by FY 2024 from sports betting.

PlayNY projects reaching that $500 million figure will be difficult, but $400 million could be doable.

“There will be a whole bunch of aspects we’ll look at to see if this is working,” Addabbo said. “We’ll compare with other states, we’ll compare with certain projects we had and look at any technical glitches. We’ll talk to the industry about how it’s going from their perspective. If we knock it out of the ballpark, there’s no reason to change the model. We’ll just make minor tweaks if we have to.”

Addabbo won’t be betting but is excited for constituents

Caesars Sportsbook NY, DraftKings NY, FanDuel NY and BetRivers Sportsbook NY can begin accepting legal bets on Saturday morning at 9 a.m.

Although Addabbo has been a champion for legalizing online sports betting in New York for years, don’t expect him to place a bet from his home Saturday at market launch.

“I love sports and play sports when I can, but I’m not into the aspect of gambling or placing a bet,” Addabbo said. “But now I can go into my local coffee shop in peace because before I’d always hear from people asking when they’re getting sports betting. Now my constituents will be happy.”

Other New York gaming legislation movement

Also this week, Addabbo’s bill to align horse wagering and sports betting apps got assigned to his committee.

Introduced in November, Senate Bill 7536 also authorizes agreements for mobile sports betting operators to locate kiosks at stadiums, arenas and horse tracks.

Addabbo contends that horse betting and online sports wagering platforms could easily be merged through an agreement by licensees.

“It’s what’s appropriate, logical and rational,” Addabbo said. “Some guy wants to bet on the Rangers, Islanders, Mets, Rangers, Giants, Knicks and Mets, and then they’ve got to switch to another app to do the fifth race at Saratoga? Are you kidding me? In this day and age?”

Although the bill is headed to his committee, Addabbo hopes to get the language in the budget. Budget discussions will begin with Gov. Kathy Hochul introducing her first executive budget Jan. 18, with a final budget due April 1.

Photo by AP / Corey Sipkin
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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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