Mobile Sports Betting Legalization Back on the Agenda in NY

New Yorkers need to cross the Hudson River to place their bets in New Jersey, but this may change soon as lawmakers are seriously considering the legalization of mobile sports betting, New York Post reports.

The New York Senate is dominated by Democrats who previously supported the idea of legalizing mobile sports book apps, but St.Gov Andrew Cuomo has been resistant, claiming there should be a constitutional amendment to allow for mobile betting before any bill is passed through the legislature.

In Search for Extra State Revenue to Fill the Void

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie was also against the notion, but it is staffers from his office that started querying other lawmakers Thursday, whether they would support the move now, just days before state legislature reconvenes at the beginning of the next week.

The unofficial survey comes at a moment when the state’s tax receipts for June fell by $1.5 billion, a 17.3% drop compared to June 2019, prompting a re-evaluation of other sources of revenue to fill the gap. As supporters of the mobile sports betting claim it will bring tens millions to the state in terms of license fees, taxes and other revenues, and even the ones that were strongly opposing the idea like Heastie started seriously considering it.

Some members of the Assembly who were not inclined in favour in the past, have now changed their minds, stating that the economic impact of the virus outbreak changed the picture. Moreover, Gary Pretlow, Chairman of the Racing and Wagering Committee in the Assembly claimed he had secured 85 votes to pass a bill that would legalize mobile sports betting in New York, with only 76 needed for the approval. And the votes were available even before the virus hit the state, he said.

The proposal Pretlow claimed he had enough votes to pass through includes the requirement for bettors to register in-person in one of the casinos, much like bettors on horse racing events need to sign up with the New York Racing Association before being able to place bets.

So far, betting in New York is available in one of the four casinos, Rivers Casino, Del Lago, Resorts World Catskills and Tioga Downs, as well as in the sports book lounges in the fully authorized gaming venues operated by the Akwesasne Mohawk, Oneida, and Seneca nations.

If state lawmakers choose to go the other way, through a constitutional amendment as suggested by Gov. Cuomo, it would take several years and votes by two successive legislatures, followed by a public referendum before mobile sports betting is legalized. From a financial point of view, New York does not have that much time to waste.

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