Need For Revenue Could Push Single-Skin Sports Betting Legislation Through Soon

Written By Matthew Kredell on December 14, 2020

If New York is going to pass a revenue bill including mobile sports betting in 2020, the legislature needs to begin the process this week.

Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. thinks it’s possible that New York gets the revenue bill done this year, but the time frame is tight.

“I believe that if the revenue package is to go before the legislature as of now, mobile sports betting is in it,” Addabbo said. “There has been discussion and movement, but this is a two-house legislature and everything has to be choreographed really well between the Assembly, Senate, and governor’s office.”

Talk of NY mobile sports betting gets real

Addabbo confirmed to PlayNY what Assemblyman Gary Pretlow said last week, that legislative leaders are discussing a revenue bill with mobile sports betting.

“The real talk is only because of the real need for revenue,” Addabbo said. “Covid has given us roughly a $50 billion shortfall when including state and local budgets.”

New York has waited on Congress to pass a pandemic aid bill before addressing a revenue bill. But Congress couldn’t reach an agreement last week and will continue talks this week.

New York can’t wait much longer to get a revenue bill done this year. And Addabbo doesn’t think the state should wait.

“We can’t wait for the federal government to bail us out,” Addabbo said. “The federal stimulus is one unreliable shot of money. We’ve got to look internally for cuts and revenue, and there it is right in our face with mobile sports betting and the conversion of two downstate gaming licenses.”

If not 2020 maybe early 2021 for NY revenue bill

Addabbo thinks that, if the legislature and governor can’t agree on a revenue bill this year, they will pursue it early in 2021.

“I say let’s do something before the end of the year,” Addabbo said. “If not, the talk is don’t wait until the April budget to do it. If it bleeds into next year, do something early in January.”

Either way won’t make much difference for mobile sports betting. But there’s an advantage to completing the revenue bill this month rather than next.

If the bill includes a tax increase, passing it this month puts the increase into effect Jan. 1. Waiting until January delays the increase until 2022.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last week that a tax hike is inevitable even if Washington does provide federal aid.

“There’s an immediate need for revenue, so we do not have the luxury of kicking the can down the road waiting for revenue in 2022,” Addabbo said.

Timeline to legalize NY online sports betting in 2020

Addabbo described the possible path to getting the revenue bill passed before the end of the year.

  • Cuomo must approve the bill by Dec. 31.
  • The governor has 10 days to review a bill, not counting Sundays. So the legislature would need to pass a bill by Saturday to give him the full allotted time.
  • Bills must age for three days before a final vote on the Assembly or Senate floors unless the governor authorizes a message of necessity.

NY online sports betting skins to start at one

Addabbo said he and Pretlow had a conversation Thursday in which they agreed to keep the sports betting language to one skin.

However, they would push the narrative that increasing the skins to two could add additional revenue in excess of $84 million.

With Cuomo’s hesitance to do mobile sports betting, Addabbo thinks the bill has a better chance with one app per casino.

“The bottom line is we start with one for now,” Addabbo said. “But if the governor wants additional skins, let’s do it.”

Fantasy sports in revenue bill too?

In addition to mobile sports betting and downstate casino licenses, Addabbo wants to put daily fantasy sports into the revenue bill.

Earlier this year, the NY Supreme Court upheld a ruling that the 2016 NY law classifying DFS as a game of skill was unconstitutional.

Addabbo has a bill trying to clarify that fantasy sports are not considered a contest of chance constituting a gambling offense under penal law. He wants to include the language in the revenue bill.

He projects it would bring New York a modest $4 million in additional revenue.

Photo by Kotist | Dreamstime.com
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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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