For residents of the Empire State, New York mobile sports betting remains a dream. The state’s Legislature ended its term on Wednesday, June 19, without passing a bill.
A new bill is possible in the next legislative term. It would face the same obstacles the last one did, however.
What happened to the New York mobile sports betting bill?
A bill to legalize mobile sports betting passed the state Senate on Monday, June 17. The state’s Assembly then received it for approval. That’s where the issue lay.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a strong opponent of gambling expansion, refused to bring the bill for a vote on the floor. Heastie made the decision despite the insistence of Assemblyman Gary Pretlow that a majority of members of the assembly supported it.
In order to consider legalizing New York online gambling, a new bill in the next term is necessary. Even if that happens, however, there’s another significant obstacle.
Gov. Cuomo raises constitutional questions
When the next legislative term begins in January 2020, Andrew Cuomo will still be the state’s governor. That presents a problem for legalizing online betting.
Cuomo has consistently stated he has questions about violating the state’s constitution. He believes an amendment is necessary to legalize mobile sports betting. That signals he might veto any bill to reach his desk.
Amending the state’s constitution is an intentionally arduous process. It requires a voter referendum and can take up to three years.
If Cuomo insists, legislators like Pretlow could wait for a potential successor in the governor’s office. Cuomo’s term ends in 2023.
What the mobile sports betting bill contained
Off-track betting sites, racetracks and places like Yankee Stadium could have become casino affiliates. These facilities would have had internet kiosks installed after a waiting period.
The bill was a win for professional sports leagues. Books would have been required to use official data for in-play bets if economically reasonable and pay 0.20% of handle as an “integrity fee.”
What about DraftKings and FanDuel?
Online-only sportsbooks like DraftKings and FanDuel also could have operated in the state in a roundabout way. The bill allowed casinos to contract with third parties to run their online betting platforms.
If DraftKings and/or FanDuel had opted for that route in this scenario, the law also allowed their branding to be displayed along with the casino partners’. Technically, bettors would have been placing their bets with the casino using DraftKings’ or FanDuel’s software.
In most ways, however, it would have appeared similar to the view residents of New Jersey get when they use DraftKings’ or FanDuel’s sportsbooks. The proximity of New Jersey for southern New York bettors is a concern for New York legislators.
Betting bill’s demise benefits Jersey, offshore
Current New York law on sports betting only allows in-person wagers to be legally placed. That requires travel for New York residents who live in the southern parts of the state.
Crossing the state line to New Jersey is a shorter trip for those New Yorkers. New Jersey will continue to reap the benefit of such activity until New York acts to make mobile betting legal.
Sports betting channels that exist outside the legal framework will also continue to see action. Many bettors prefer to place bets on mobile devices, and the offshore books cater to that.
At least for the next year, the question of online sports betting becoming legal in New York has been answered in the negative. Whether that answer will change within the next legislative term is still in doubt as well.