Senator Joseph Addabbo’s bill to legalise mobile wagering in New York has taken a major step forward after it was passed by the state Senate.
However, S17 still faces a race against time if it is to progress through the House of Representatives before the state’s legislative session ends on June 19.
The bill, which had sat with the Senate Finance Committee for a number of weeks after passing the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, was discharged then committed to the chamber’s Rules Committee.
After passing through that it went to a full Senate vote, passing with 57 votes in favour and five against.
“As the chairman of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, I am delighted that the State Senate has taken this important step towards legalizing sports betting via smart phones and other mobile devices,” Addabbo said following the bill’s passage. “Permitting this type of wagering holds great potential for creating jobs and raising significant revenues for education, while also credibly addressing the issue of compulsive gambling.
It has now moved to the New York Assembly, which has just two days to pass it into law. The bill must be called for a full vote in the chamber by the Assembly leadership, though it remains unclear whether the Speaker will allow this.
Even if the bill does make it through the Assembly, Governor Andrew Cuomo has long opposed mobile wagering, arguing that a constitutional amendment is required for it to be brought into law.
S17, and its Assembly companion bill A6113, aim to significantly expand New York’s sports betting market, which under current plans is restricted to in-person betting at the state’s four upstate casinos.
Addabbo argued that adding a mobile component to the planned land-based launch would capture revenue that would otherwise flow across the border into New Jersey.
“In addition, legal mobile sports betting will put a serious dent in the existing underground and illegal wagering industry,” he said.
“Experiences in other states have demonstrated that implementing sports betting without a mobile component leaves those states where people cannot wager with their phones or other devices at a competitive disadvantage.”
They propose a $12m license fee, then would tax land-based betting at 8.5% of gross revenue, and mobile at 12%. The use of official league data for betting purposes would be mandatory, and licensees would be required to pay a royalty fee equal to 0.2% of quarterly handle to the professional sports leagues.
Following an amendment made earlier this month, the proposals would allow off-track betting facilities (OTBs) and New York Racing Association outlets to offer mobile wagering. Stadiums – albeit only those in boroughs without any other form of sports betting – would also be able to launch legal wagering.
Whether or not it passes into law, sports betting is coming to New York, after the state’s Gaming Commission approved regulations for the vertical last week. This covers betting at the Schenectady-based Rivers Casino, Tioga Downs racino in Nichols, del Lago Resort in the Finger Lakes and Monticello-based Resorts World Catskills, with licensees paying a 10% gross revenue tax.
The exact launch date for the venues, which are yet to secure licences, is yet to be set, though media reports suggest there will be a push to go live this summer.
“Ultimately, I hope the Governor will choose to embrace the great benefits that sports betting, including the mobile component, will bring to New York in terms of employment, additional funding for education, addressing illegal gambling, and ensuring our competitiveness with other states,” Addabbo said in conclusion.