Sports Betting News

Cuomo a No-Go on Mobile

When it comes to passing legal online sports gambling in the state of New York, the politicians remain the roadblock. Their latest annual budget for the state will be many progressive things such as create congestion charges and add a mansion tax. However, it definitely won’t expand sports betting in the coming year. Just last weekend, the state legislature put forth a $175 billion spending package for their upcoming fiscal year and this budget, which Governor Andrew Cuomo approved, meets its many of the progressive targets the Governor has touted for months now. Cuomo even went so far as to say, “This is the best budget that has been produced since I’ve been governor.” However, as progressive as the budget may be, the provisions to legalize recreational marijuana use and online sports betting hit a brick wall as lawmakers ultimately jettisoned both the controversial issues from their final package, kicking the can down the road.

NY Mobile Betting in Trouble from the Start

There is no doubt that there have been serious efforts to expand the existing New York state sports betting law with mobile betting, and they have been underway since Cuomo took office. It was these budget negotiations which were to serve as a last chance for any mobile betting in the near future. The state constitution is a problem for the legislative attempts to reach a conclusion since New York law stipulates voters must approve any bill related to gambling, as they did previously with upstate commercial casinos.
That 2013 referendum also included authorization for in-person sports betting, a clause which the 2018 United States Supreme Court decision activated. While New York state senators have worked to legislate mobile betting in the time since, they’ve yet to assemble enough support make passage a real possibility. Other states have worked around similar legalese and constitutionality. However, here it doesn’t look as if Gov. Cuomo has any desire to make a deal. The chief executive is mobile betting’s chief opponent, and he says that another referendum is in order and is the only way to support mobile expansion.

New Jersey Reaps the Rewards

New York in-person gambling has been struggling, and this is one reason for the major push to expand their laws and include the mobile option. Then you have companies such as DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook, who both have signed agreements to operate their retail sportsbooks in New York. However, both are mobile-first operators in platform and practice. Not being allowed to fully utilize your product must be frustrating. Especially when you consider neighboring New Jersey, where mobile wagering represents more than 80% of the total New Jersey sports betting handle. How much of that money is coming from New York is hard to say, but it is estimated to be quite a bit with New York City just over the bridge.

As of now, in-person sports betting remains the only legal form of sports betting in New York. Preliminary rules are progressing through a 60-day public comment period, so the first New York sportsbooks, which are ready to go, might be open in time for the very lucrative NFL season. This leaves only four new commercial properties and the existing tribal casinos as establishments which can offer sports betting. None of them are closer than a two-hour drive from the center of NYC, and this ensures that those New York gamblers will continue to use New Jersey sportsbooks as well as the many New Jersey sports betting apps. After all, the FanDuel Sportsbook at Meadowlands is a stone’s throw, just across the river from Manhattan. Whether Cuomo realizes this or simply wants to ignore it is anyone’s guess.

Chances Still Slim

The legislature keeps working in Albany until late June, and there are several standalone bills, such as S 1490, that remain on file. Not only that, just last month, sponsors wrote legal opinions to support the popular idea that they can already authorize mobile betting. These opinions argue such as move would not be a new or unlawful expansion of sports gambling.

Will mobile sports betting happen in New York state? Yes. One day, as it will everywhere. Just not anytime soon and this is business as usual in New York politics. Not putting politics aside to help the state is just the New York way. Expanding sports gambling to include online wagering is an obvious move in this day and age and how its potential is ignored by certain states, such as New York, only hurts themselves. Sports bettors will all flock to their neighboring and take those tax dollars with them. If states want to get it legalized sports betting done, they do. In New York state’s case though, one has to wonder if the years of litigation over the legality of Daily Fantasy Sports with companies such as FanDuel and DraftKings is the real sticking point as, considering New York’s history, it would not be a surprise.

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