Assembly Sponsor Wants A Word With NY Governor On Sports Betting

Written By Mike Mazzeo on October 21, 2021 - Last Updated on October 23, 2021
Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, D-Mount Vernon, listens to Assembly members debate the interactive fantasy sports contest legislative bill in the Assembly Chamber at the Capitol on Friday, June 17, 2016, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow told PlayNY that he plans to call Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration Thursday afternoon to express his concerns about online sports betting in New York.

The NYS Gaming Commission this week finalized its tax rate matrix, which ranges from 35-64% based on the numbers of operators and platform providers who receive licenses.

Pretlow published a series of tweets on Thursday pitching for an open process in which every operator and platform provider that applied to participate in NY sports betting is accepted.

Pretlow still calling for change

“I was opposed to [Cuomo’s] plan from the beginning,” Pretlow told PlayNY. “Everybody knows that. I expected more from the Hochul administration, and I’m going to give them a call in about a half hour to see if they can change this.

“If you’re going to do this plan, open it up to everybody. And I think that everyone should be included. And we’re going back to the good ol’ boy system where they deal with who they want to deal with and exclude everyone else. And I’m just a little upset with how this whole thing went down so I’m going to pursue it.”

There are six bids spanning 14 operators and/or platform providers. The NYSGC has until Dec. 6 to select applicants for the coveted licenses. The favored consortium is FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and Bally’s, which as part of their bid want to be the only four operators in the state.

Cuomo gets his wish for sports betting

During an August gaming conference in Saratoga, Pretlow compared lawmakers’ original plans for sports betting and what they received from the Cuomo administration as the difference between heaven and hell. Lawmakers wanted an open process with a modest tax rate similar to New Jersey, which just reached $1 billion in sports betting handle in September.

If Pretlow’s efforts are successful, the tax rate would likely be 35%. But he’s not concerned about taxes right now.

“They can work out that whole tax rate thing at a later date, but I think that the entities that were excluded should be included,” Pretlow said. “We couldn’t change it when the former governor first made this proposal. We didn’t want to do it this way. We wanted it opened up to have a robust market, giving everybody that wanted to take the chance on setting up shop in New York should have that opportunity… We should give them the opportunity to succeed, because I think that the more that we have, the better it is for the state.”

Cuomo started this process last year by declaring that 50% was the lowest acceptable tax rate. Director of Budget Robert Mujica, appointed by Cuomo, is now overseeing the sports betting financials.

“I think that’s crazy,” Pretlow said. “I don’t think that his ideas are going to be changed too much, but I want to put the onus on the new governor to say something affirmatively about what I want to do.”

The clock is ticking in New York

Pretlow said he discussed changes with fellow advocate Sen. Joe Addabbo, but there isn’t much they can do until they return to session.

“They’re not going to call a special session to bring us back and change anything. So I don’t want people to get too far into this, spending a lot of money, setting up things, and then we change it. That’s not going to be able to happen. if we’re not successful in what I’m trying to do now, what’s going to happen is that it’s going to be set in stone. And trying to change it after the fact is going to be difficult.”

Addabbo has remained optimistic that online sports betting can be up and running in New York before the Super Bowl, with the first bet potentially placed during the NFL playoffs in January. But any change could prevent that from occurring, causing the state to lose even more revenue than it already has.

“I think the Super Bowl would still be open,” Pretlow said. “It may not be open to everybody, but I think it’ll still be open. And if bidders come in a little later or after that or we do make the changes in January to include other entities, then they’ll come in for baseball season.”

Lead photo: Hans Pennink | AP

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Mike Mazzeo

Mike Mazzeo is a contributing writer for PlayNY, reporting on legal sports betting in New York while covering the potential legalization of NY online casinos and poker. He previously wrote for ESPN, the New York Daily News and The Ringer, among others.

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