Photo Courtesy of the Office of the Governor
“It is a shame that our residents who wish to participate and enjoy legal sports betting must jump ship to other states,” Sen. Addabbo said.
By Michael V. Cusenza
It’s not looking like a lock.
With approximately two weeks to go in the 2019 State legislative session, mobile sports betting seems to be in the basement of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s palace of political preferences.
“It’s possible,” Cuomo teased on WAMC radio last Tuesday, via a New York Post report. “I think the time is short and the list is long, so I would counsel the legislative leaders to get the priorities done, because these priorities are not easy.”
Among the “priorities” on which the governor appears to have his sights set are legalizing recreational marijuana, driver’s licenses for the undocumented residents of the Empire State, and rent control.
Still, at least one area elected official characterized Cuomo’s radio remarks regarding sports betting becoming a reality in NY before the end of the 2019 legislative session as encouraging.
“I strongly believe legalizing online sports betting would be an economic boon for New York State, and would capture revenue that otherwise flows across the border to New Jersey where residents can already bet with their phones or other mobile devices,” State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach), chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, said last Wednesday. “Moving forward with mobile sports betting in our state would create new jobs while raising necessary funding for education and other vital public purposes. I look forward to working with the governor, my colleagues in the Senate and Assembly, and other interested stakeholders to green light a mobile sports betting law that satisfies all constitutional concerns, while enabling us to take advantage of a new and significant source of revenue for New York State.”
The “constitutional concerns” Addabbo referenced in his statement belong to Cuomo. According to the Post piece, State law only allows in-person sports gambling at four upstate casinos, and the governor has previously said that allowing remote betting via a mobile-phone app would require an amendment to the State Constitution.
However, Addabbo has argued that mobile gambling could be legalized without an amendment—via a referendum—so long as the computer servers used in the wagering are physically in those casinos.
Addabbo told the Post that he and Cuomo, both alumni of Archbishop Molloy High School in Briarwood, are “not on the same page.”
The senator has been pushing to legalize sports wagering in the Empire State since May 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the federal ban. Earlier this year, Addabbo cited gaudy revenue numbers enjoyed by New Jersey in an effort to get the necessary votes to bring sports betting to New York.
According to New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement, the Garden State took in $31.7 million in Sports Wagering Gross Revenue for the month of March alone. Additionally, for the first three months of 2019, Sports Waging Gross Revenue in New Jersey was at $63.2 million.
“It is a shame that our residents who wish to participate and enjoy legal sports betting must jump ship to other states,” Addabbo said in April. “That is money taken out of our budget for important things like education.”