Wait A New York Minute: Online Sports Betting’s Fate Will Become Clear In December

Written By Matthew Kredell on November 19, 2020 - Last Updated on January 21, 2021

Whether New York legalizes online sports betting in 2020 will get clarity within the first two weeks of December.

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow told PlayNY that New York lawmakers will convene on Dec. 1 to discuss plans for the remainder of the year.

“We’re running out of 2020 and there’s nothing in the offing for the rest of November, so that leaves one month,” Pretlow said. “We’re not going to go back after Christmas so that only leaves the first two weeks of December for us to do anything.”

Pretlow still believes he has a commitment from Speaker Carl Heastie to include online sports betting in the revenue bill.

New York needs revenue to fill budget hole

New York needs to do a revenue bill to have a balanced budget, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be completed this year. The deadline to balance the budget is March 31, when the fiscal year ends.

At the moment, New York sits $16 billion in the hole. Pretlow said that if the state does not raise money, it will need to cut 20% of aid the state gives to localities. That includes education.

“We give $29 billion to K-through-12 schools,” Pretlow said. “If we cut the 20% that the governor predicts has to be cut, that’s going to take $6 billion out of education. And these are midyear cuts, so taking that money out of education will be the worst for schools.”

New York City casino licenses also on table

Pretlow wants the Empire State to green-light mobile sports betting and allow two downstate New York properties to become full casinos.

He projects $200 to $300 million in revenue from sports wagering and an additional $700 million in fees from each casino license. That’s more than $1.5 billion New York could raise from gaming enhancements that the state’s gambling industry wants.

“That goes a hell of a long way in comparison to other things getting discussed,” Pretlow said. “There’s always a chance.”

Federal funds shouldn’t affect NY online sports betting

New York has been waiting on Congress and the President to agree on a coronavirus stimulus package before addressing the revenue bill.

Pretlow doesn’t think New York will get the stimulus money it needs from the feds, which will increase the importance of additional revenue.

However, he doesn’t think federal money would stop New York from signing off on mobile sports betting.

“If they make us flush, New York is still going to need the money,” Pretlow said.

Photo by AP / Mike Groll
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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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