Capitol Notes

Report on state gambling landscape long overdue

A state-commissioned study on New York’s gambling landscape, which would likely be used to justify a significant gambling expansion, is now seven months overdue.

The report by Spectrum Gaming Group was due on June 1, but the deadline was extended by the state Gaming Commission in order to gauge the full impact of the pandemic on existing gambling operations and its implications on future gambling options, including mobile sports betting and an accelerated development of downstate casinos. A draft report was submitted to the state in the spring of 2020, but it has not been made public.

State Sen. Joe Addabbo, a Queens Democrat who chairs the chamber’s racing and wagering committee, is disappointed that, even with the extension to factor in COVID-19, he doesn’t have a comprehensive analysis to review at the start of the new legislative session. His hope is that the report can serve as a roadmap toward maximizing potential gambling revenue for the state.

“I was hopeful to have something on my desk that I could review with my team during the latter part of 2020,” Addabbo told The Capitol Pressroom on Wednesday.

The state Gaming Commission has been largely silent on the status of report, confirming in October that it was “still not finalized.”

On Wednesday, the Daily News reported that Gov. Andrew Cuomo was finally on board with legislation that would pave the way for internet-based sports wagering. Current law only allows sports wagers to be cast from upstate casinos.

A potential wrench in any efforts to expand sports wagering to the internet is the state’s constitution, which narrowly limits the types of gambling allowed in New York. Addabbo has long maintained that an amendment to the constitution is not necessary, but the state – in soliciting bids for its gambling study – noted that any analysis of future internet sports wagering should be based on the passage of a constitutional amendment.

Cuomo has previously maintained that a constitutional amendment will be necessary for New Yorkers to enjoy sports wagering from their phones. It will be interesting to see how he navigates his past statements next week, when he is expected to lay out his support for the expansion.

In light of the time it would take to get a system of mobile sports wagering up and running in New York, Addabbo is hopeful that the issue can be addressed as part of a revenue package in January and not get put off until the state budget is finalized in the spring.

UPDATE: Shortly after this post went up, Gov. Andrew Cuomo shared the broad outline for how he envisions mobile sports wagering working in New York.

 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced legislation to authorize mobile sports wagering as part of the 2021 State of the State. Under Governor Cuomo’s proposal, the New York State Gaming Commission will issue a request for proposals to select and license a sports operator or platform to offer mobile sports wagering in New York. This operator or platform must have a partnership with one of the existing licensed commercial casinos. The Commission will also require any entity operating mobile wagering apps include safeguards against abuses and addiction.

 

“At a time when New York faces a historic budget deficit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the current online sports wagering structure incentivizes a large segment of New York residents to travel out of state to make online sports wagers or continue to patronize black markets,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York has the potential to be the largest sports wagering market in the United States, and by legalizing online sports betting we aim to keep millions of dollars in revenue here at home, which will only strengthen our ability to rebuild from the COVID-19 crisis.” 

 

The sports gambling market is evolving rapidly. In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court in Murphy v. NCAA overturned a federal law prohibiting most states from authorizing sports wagering. Sports wagering is now legal online in 14 states, including the bordering states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, while it is only legal in New York at the four Upstate commercial gaming facilities and Native American gaming facilities.  An industry study found that nearly 20 percent of New Jersey’s sports wagering revenue comes from New York residents, costing the State millions of dollars in lost tax revenue.  

◄ Back to News