Addabbo Says New York Can’t Wait Until Spring For Mobile Sports Betting

Written By Matthew Kredell on December 17, 2020 - Last Updated on December 18, 2020

Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. said it’s his Christmas wish that New York legalizes mobile sports betting this year. If that doesn’t work, he’ll make it his New Year’s wish as well.

Addabbo told PlayNY that New York can’t afford to follow the governor’s recommendation to wait until the spring to fix the state’s budget woes.

“That’s not, in my opinion, the direction we should go,” Addabbo said. “The need for revenue is now. I believe that we can do the revenue bill and save jobs. Remember, 4,000 casino workers in our state got a letter earlier in the year that they may not be able to go back to work. We could probably save those jobs if we help the gaming industry now.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo brought up mobile sports betting in a televised briefing Wednesday as a possibility for new revenue to help address the state’s $15 billion deficit.

“I’m thankful he mentioned it,” Addabbo said. “It just shows he’s doing his due diligence and figuring out what is obtainable revenue for the state.”

Addabbo questions need to wait on revenue bill

In Wednesday’s speech, Cuomo said he favored waiting until the spring to determine how to handle the budget deficit. That way, the state will know if it gets federal pandemic aid.

Cuomo believes that President-elect Joe Biden will get the states federal aid by February or March.

Addabbo doesn’t understand why New York would wait on federal money knowing it will need new revenues.

“If we all agree it’s going to happen, then why not do it now when you know you need the revenue?” Addabbo said. “Every day we wait people get hurt. Restaurant owners in my district are worried. More than 40% of businesses won’t be coming back according to the Chamber of Commerce. Every business that doesn’t come back, we lose 30-to-40 jobs.”

Why NY likely won’t legalize mobile betting in 2020

New York lawmakers have discussed including tax increases on the wealthy in a revenue bill that would also include mobile sports betting.

The budget deficit doesn’t have to be addressed until the end of the fiscal year March 31. However, tax increases need to be passed this month to go into effect Jan. 1.

Cuomo indicated that New York can circumvent that rule to retroactively apply the tax to the beginning of the year, cutting out the biggest reason to do the revenue bill now.

He added that New York would need to make cuts to education and healthcare if creating new revenue now.

Addabbo explained that what the governor is saying is that, procedurally, New York can’t raise taxes without doing the budget first. And that would require that the state balance the budget without federal funds.

Addabbo believes that the governor could work around this procedural roadblock to do a pure revenue bill now just like he can retroactively apply the tax increase.

“I am of the opinion that when the governor wants to do something, pretty much anything, we find a way to do it.”

Senator will take mobile sports betting early in 2021

Sports betting revenues, however, cannot be collected retroactively. Addabbo points out that New York will miss out on revenues from two of the most popular sporting events of the year for betting, the Super Bowl and March Madness, by not authorizing mobile sports wagering now.

Addabbo believes a revenue bill can and should be done this month. He asserts that the local businesses and people in his district need it now.

“We should do a revenue package sooner rather than later,” Addabbo said. “Our people and their quality of life depend on it. They’re looking for us to do something about it. I think it would behoove us in restoring the faith in our government from our people by doing what we can as soon as we can.”

With the governor’s comments, there probably isn’t enough time to change his mind about pursuing a revenue bill in 2020. But Addabbo notes that doesn’t mean the state needs to wait until the spring.

“Something could materialize miraculously and we do it before the end of the year, but I’m not optimistic,” Addabbo said. “If not, I think we should do something within the first couple weeks of January. I think it’s the right thing to do for our people.”

Photo by Dreamstime / Suprijono Suharjoto
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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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