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Lawmakers set out competing sports betting proposals in New York 


Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblymember Gary Pretlow have put forward a new proposal to regulate mobile sports betting in New York, days after Governor Andrew Cuomo signalled his intention to support legalization – albeit through the state lottery – in 2021. 

Addabbo’s SB1183 and Pretlow’s A1257 were filed yesterday (7 January), and amends the state’s Racing, Pari-Mutuel Wagering and Breeding Law to allow commercial and tribal casinos to offer mobile sports betting. 

Licensees would be expected to pay a $12m fee for the right to operate in the state as well as a 12% gross revenue tax, higher than the 8.5% rate set for in-person betting. 

Each operator would also be able to operate two skins under its license, which based on the state’s four commercial casinos and three tribal operators, suggests up to 14 brands would be permitted in the market.

There would also be scope for other venues, such as sports stadiums and off-track betting facilities, to participate in the market as affiliates of the casinos, by hosting betting kiosks on-site. This had been included in a previous attempt by Addabbo and Pretlow to push through mobile wagering legislation, in July 2019.

Types of bets permitted would be divided into three categories, with tier one wagers those that are determined by the final outcome of a sporting event. Tier two, meanwhile, covers all bets placed in play that do not relate to the final scores, while tier three covers any bet types not included in the previous two categories. 

There would also be an 0.2% levy on sports betting handle, which would be returned to sports organizers as a royalty fee, with in-play betting to only be permitted when using official league data. 

Addabbo’s SB1183 has been referred to the Senate Racing, Gaming And Wagering Committee, while Pretlow’s A1257 is currently with the Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee. 

The proposal contrasts the plans put forward by Cuomo earlier this week, which emerged following reports that he was to drop his long-standing opposition to mobile wagering. 

The Governor had previously argued that a constitutional amendment – and ratification through a public referendum – was required to allow the channel to be offered in New York.

As part of his plans to shore up the state’s finances following the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, Cuomo said he would look to raise new revenue through mobile sports betting. 

However, he said this would be offered through the state lottery, rather than by opening up the market to private operators. 

“Many states have done sports betting but they basically allow casinos to run their own gambling operations,” Cuomo explained. “That makes a lot of money for casinos, but it makes minimal money for the state. 

“I’m not here to make casinos a lot of money, I’m here to raise funds for the state.”

New York budget director Robert Mujica added that New Jersey had only generated new tax revenue of around $80m in just under three years since launch, despite being cited as the blueprint for New York to follow.

“The reason being everyone else is making a lot of money off of sports betting, the jurisdiction where it’s in the state is not,” he said. “There are a few states that have done it a different way, where the state contracts with the private sector who runs the sports books, but the state ends of getting the majority of what is left over after everything is returned to the bettors. 

“The difference between the two estimates would be between the state making somewhere in the neighborhood of $50m a year versus $500m a year,” Mujica continued. “So, the way the Governor’s proposing it and we’ll advance it is so that the state can get up to $500m a year instead of $50 m, and that money would then go to the state budget. 

He claimed that the experience for the end user would be “exactly the same”, and said further details would be made available when Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget was published.