Mobile Sports Betting in New York - Hearing Wednesday

Written by:
Alejandro Botticelli
Published on:

  • Revamped companion bills address problem gambling and tribal inclusion

  • The $12 million licensing fee will be the biggest in the nation so far

  • Governor Andrew Cuomo says mobile gambling would require voter approval

  • June 18 is the deadline to get sports betting legalized in 2019

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Assemblyman Gary Pretlow and Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. companion bills to legalize sports betting in the Empire State will be presented during a hearing Wednesday.

A 6117 and S 17 add language for tribal inclusion and address problem gambling.  The bills also impose a $12 million licensing fee, the highest in the nation.

There will be a 12% tax placed on gross gaming revenue via mobile devices and 8.5% at retail sportsbook outlets inside one of New York's handful of casinos.

Efforts to include sports betting provisions in the 2019 state budget failed in early spring.

Addabbo Jr. will look to gather information on gambling expansion in the state and the viability of mobile betting.  Witnesses on both sides plan to address the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said expanding sports betting beyond the four non-Native American-owned casinos requires a voter-approved constitutional amendment.

Fellow Democrats who control the Legislature dispute that, saying the state can already allow it.

An invitation by Addabbo to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s top adviser on gambling matters was declined Monday evening because of a scheduling conflict.

The state Gaming Commission formally posted its rules for sports betting March 20, starting a 60-day period during which the public can weigh in on the issue. When that period ends on May 20, the commission will review the public comments. Barring any subsequent changes to the regulations, the panel could approve sports betting at its next meeting, which hasn’t been scheduled yet.

Wagering on sports will become legal once the regulations are published in the New York State Register.

New York has a leg up here in that sports gambling was already authorized under a 2013 measure – located in Seneca, Schenectady, Tioga or Sullivan counties. The handful of commercial casinos are permitted to offer sports betting provide a federal ban on such wagering got lifted. That happened last May when the US Supreme Court overturned decades of prohibition against the activity.

Language related to mobile and online wagering as not included in the 2013 measure. Buffalo Bills parent company Pegula Sports Entertainment is pushing to have Internet-based sports gambling legalized in New York.

Here is the conundrum a la the Buffalo News:

Tribes could, if they chose, opt out of offering online sports betting. If so, “geo fencing” technology would be used to block online bets from taking place with existing exclusivity zones that were created in Indian casino deals with the state to block new gambling from entering large geographic areas near Indian casinos.

If the tribes participate in online wagering under the terms of the new amendments, they could accept wagers from anywhere in the state, but they would also have to allow online sports bets by casinos located outside of their exclusivity zones.

“It allows us to have further dialogue with the three tribes. I think our relationships with the three tribes should be built on a working relationship," Addabbo said Tuesday.

“The Seneca Nation is monitoring this effort and is optimistic that Senator Addabbo has taken the time and made the effort to reach out to the Native nations in New York for our input on a bill that has the potential to impact our existing gaming operations,’’ the tribe said in a statement.

Outside of the powerful politically-connected tribes, Governor Cuomo will ultimately have the final say.

On Tuesday afternoon, his administration confirmed their opinion regarding online sports gambling remains steadfast. “We have constitutional concerns on this issue that we have raised for nearly and year, and our position remains the same. We will review the revised bill," said Jason Conwall, a Cuomo spokesman.

Addabbo lowered expectations by suggesting his hearing would simply present a road map on how to get to mobile sports wagering.

If nothing is finalized by June 18, there will need to be a "do over" next year.

- Alejandro Botticelli, Gambling911.com

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