Another Ball May Drop In New York Without Online Sports Betting

Written By Matthew Kredell on December 2, 2020

Time is running out for New York to legalize online sports betting in 2020.

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow said no plans were made to pursue a revenue bill in a phone call with the Assembly Speaker and the Democratic caucus on Tuesday.

However, Pretlow and Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. are holding out hope for the legislature to include online sports betting in a revenue bill this year.

Pretlow and Addabbo took part in a panel discussion at the Betting on Sports America digital conference. They were joined by Tioga Downs owner Jeff Gural in a conversation moderated by John Pappas, CEO of Corridor Consulting.

New York casinos back down on demand for single skin

Sports betting language currently being considered in the New York legislature limits each casino to one online sports betting platform. Including gaming tribes, this would cap one of the largest markets in the nation at seven wagering apps with the potential to hit 10 when downstate casinos are added.

Pretlow has advocated doubling that total with two skins, but he found resistance from an unexpected source – the casinos themselves.

Gural, who previously admitted to PlayNY that the casinos were lobbying to keep it to a single skin, now says they are flexible.

“I think the casinos would go along with whatever the state wants to do,” Gural said. “This is an emergency. While I personally think we’ll all be better off with one skin … whatever the governor and legislature think is best for the state of New York, we’d go along with it. Our position has changed a little bit. … If Gary, Joe and the governor think it’s important to have two skins, we’re not going to object.”

Facing a large budget deficit, New York could raise an additional $120 million with 10 more online licenses, along with a likely boost in tax revenue.

Legislature will not override governor on sports betting

In last month’s election, Democrats grabbed a super-majority in both New York legislative chambers. That means that the Democrats have enough votes to override any veto from the governor.

That generated some speculation on if the legislature would overrule a veto on online sports betting. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has long spoken out against New York allowing sports betting online.

But Addabbo said he doesn’t see the legislature turning on a governor from its own party. The governor also has to work with Cuomo on many issues more important than sports betting.

“Overturning a veto is not really something we want to do,” Addabbo said. “We want to work with the governor’s administration so we can all be on the same page moving forward. It’s confrontational overriding a veto, because after that the governor is not going to look at sports betting very favorably.”

Strong chance for budget effort if not in revenue bill

If New York does not do a revenue bill that includes online sports betting by the end of the year, Pretlow said he is confident that the Assembly will join the Senate in including it in their 2021-22 budget proposals. That would put pressure on the governor to allow online sports betting to make the next budget.

“I’m pretty sure that if we don’t do a revenue bill by the end of December, when the governor submits his budget, the Assembly and the Senate will both include sports betting as part of the revenue package,” Pretlow said. “Last year, the Senate did it. The Assembly did not do it. This year, I’m pretty sure the Assembly will do it. I have enough of my colleagues. They know that we need the money, that there will be revenue deficiencies next year as compared to this year.”

Addabbo stressed that he doesn’t want New York to wait those extra four months to legalize online sports betting.

“I really want to do it by the end of the year because we really need the revenue,” Addabbo said. “… If it’s in the budget in April, we’ll miss out on sports betting for the Super Bowl and March Madness. I’d like to do it sooner rather than later.”

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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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