NY Lawmaker Wants To Push Sports Betting, But Will He Get The Chance?

Posted on October 5, 2019

A recent news release from the office of New York state Sen. Joseph Addabbo renewed his call for the state to legalize mobile sports betting. A shortened New York legislative term might be an obstacle, however.

Despite a new sales pitch by Addabbo, the political calendar may prove more important. Addabbo can only hope to rally others to his cause soon.

Why there might be a shortened New York legislative term

The reality is that as soon as office-holders are elected to their positions, they begin working on staying there. That’s why the spring 2020 term may be cut short.

The state recently moved its primary elections to the same date as when people will vote on primaries for US House seats. That means the summer recess could hit before Memorial Day.

Members of both chambers of the New York legislature want to get out on the campaign trail. While that could mean earlier votes, it could also result in delays.

One of the matters that could be delayed is gambling expansion. If Addabbo has his way, however, that won’t be the case.

Addabbo’s new sales pitch on gambling expansion

Addabbo’s office sent out a release on Monday spinning his narrative on why the state needs gambling expansion anew. This time it was aimed at a new demographic.

Addabbo mentioned how attendance at professional sporting events in the Empire State has declined. He then went on to suggest legal online sports betting in NY could remedy that.

“It is no secret that MLB, and our Mets in particular, have been losing fans over the last couple of seasons, which isn’t good for the franchise or baseball as a whole,” said Addabbo, chairman of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering. “I believe that if fans have another reason to go to a stadium to watch a game — because they have a bet placed on which team will win or an in-game situation — it has the potential to bring in more fans. With the technology of mobile sports betting, fans can make up-to-the-minute bets during the game, which can lead to increased interest.”

It’s hard to argue with Addabbo’s logic to an extent. Having skin in the game does increase interest in a contest. Whether that alone would be sufficient to flip the script in terms of MLB attendance is questionable, however.

What’s also questionable is how the potential shortened term will affect Addabbo’s ambitions. Right now, it isn’t looking good.

Why gambling expansion isn’t likely to happen soon

There were several factors that pointed to delays in expanding gambling in New York prior to the possible shortened legislative term. The potential quick session only compounds them.

The speed at which the New York State Gaming Commission is moving on current matters, much less taking on new business, is less than impressive. The NYSGC recently had to start from scratch on a study about the current state of gambling.

Add to that the fact that the New York House didn’t even vote on Addabbo’s bill in the last term. Whether Addabbo would be able to drum up support in the chamber to change that in a normal session, much less in a shortened one, is up in the air.

In addition, there is likely still doubt in the mind of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo whether expanding gambling would require a constitutional amendment. That’s currently the subject of a lawsuit regarding daily fantasy sports in the state.

All these things work in concert with each other, unfortunately for Addabbo. Even if he is able to push a new bill through the state Senate in time, it may not receive equal support in the House.

Going a step further, there’s no guarantee Cuomo would sign such a bill even if both chambers approve it. Furthermore, with the current backlog of other concerns, how quickly the NYSGC could draft rules is questionable.

There’s a final danger even if all those parties get on board quickly. Casinos could challenge the new law in court, just as they are daily fantasy sports.

All that adds up to Addabbo’s dreams of boosting Mets’ attendance being unlikely to come true soon. The number of moving parts that would have to coincide in a short amount of time is too many.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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