Time Out New York: Online Sports Betting Will Wait Until After Election

Written By Matthew Kredell on October 14, 2020

If New York legalizes online sports betting this year, it won’t be until after the election.

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow tells PlayNY that the state will wait for a lame-duck session to pursue a revenue bill.

“A revenue bill has to be done,” Pretlow said. “The governor wants to do it after the election. But it is going to be done.”

Pretlow and Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. are leading an effort to include online sports betting in the revenue bill.

NY revenue bill taking longer than expected

Addabbo and Pretlow originally expected the legislature to do a revenue bill by Labor Day.

New York needs the revenue bill to address a large projected deficit caused by the economic downturn from the coronavirus.

However, the September date assumed that Congress and the President agreed on a federal stimulus bill in mid-August. New York lawmakers want to know if the state has any federal money coming its way before making difficult choices.

Two months later, Congress and the President still haven’t come to terms on a deal. Even if a federal stimulus bill passes before the election, there isn’t enough time for New York to tackle the revenue bill.

With less than three weeks before Nov. 3, legislators are at their districts campaigning for reelection.

Lawmaker banking on online sports betting commitment

Momentum has been building for mobile sports betting in the revenue bill since Pretlow told PlayNY that he had a commitment from Assembly leadership.

Pretlow had resigned to pursue a constitutional amendment for online sports betting but said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie deterred him, saying it wasn’t needed.

Pretlow said he hasn’t heard anything from Heastie on the topic since.

“The Speaker told me it’s going to be in the revenue bill. I’ve been misled before. I’m not saying I’m being misled now. I’m taking him at his word, and we’re going to move with it.”

Late push for New York online sports betting

In 2013, New York voters approved creating casinos and allowing them to offer sports betting when legal. The commercial and tribal casinos began offering retail sports betting in 2019.

But with most of those facilities based upstate and no online wagering, New Yorkers from the city find it easier to bet in New Jersey.

Online sports betting won’t take a big chunk out of the deficit, but Pretlow thinks every bit helps.

If New York were to allow three skins per casino property/tribe, the state could gather $252 million in licensing fees alone. However, New York casinos are lobbying to limit language to one skin. The current Senate bill reflects their position.

Pretlow is confident the legislature will do a revenue bill at some point. The legislature has not yet scheduled dates to return for a lame-duck session. The fiscal year ends March 31.

“We’re still looking at a $14 billion deficit, millions of people are out of work in New York and the state unemployment insurance fund has been depleted for months,” Pretlow said. “There are a lot of issues.”

Photo by Suphaksorn Thongwongboot / Dreamstime.com
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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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