New York Governor Changes Tune, Backs Legal Online Sports Wagering

LegalNew York New York could legalize mobile sports wager
Dec 18, 2020 18:12Tim Ronaldson

State and local governments are looking for creative ways to fill significant budget funding gaps caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In New York, one way they could do that is by allowing online sports betting.

This week, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he believes the state should introduce legislation that would permit online sports betting to help increase revenue. Like many other states, New York is facing a shortfall in revenue, and it has to get creative to fill that gap.

That’s a main reason why Cuomo, who has been reluctant to pass widespread sports betting legislation to this point, seems to have changed gears completely.

New York’s Current Sports Betting Laws

In 2019, New York finally came around and legalized sports betting. The legislation was quite limited, though. Only four casinos in Upstate New York were allowed to accept sports betting wagers, along with some tribal casinos throughout the state.

In addition, sports betting was relegated to just in-person bets. This meant that people who live in and around New York City, for example, had to travel far to place an in-person wager or go to New Jersey where they could place a mobile wager.

In 2019 alone, New York residents wagered more than $837 million on sports in neighboring New Jersey. That’s a lot of potential revenue that New York is missing out on, just because they don’t have legalized mobile sports betting of their own.

To this point, Cuomo has objected to mobile sports betting because he doesn’t believe it would be considered constitutional in the state. The state’s current gambling legislation limits the number of facilities that can accept casino gambling at seven, and he thinks mobile sports betting would then exceed that limit — and violate the constitution.

Now, though, with the state facing a budget shortfall of more than $50 billion, it may not have a choice but to open up mobile sports betting.

Earlier in December, state Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow spoke at a sports wagering industry conference, and he pointed to mobile sports wagering as a great way to close the budget gap. He said:

“My colleagues know that we need the money and there will be revenue deficiencies next year compared to this year. So, I don’t think it’s a hard sell for the cause of tens of millions of additional revenues. They can’t thumb their nose at it.”

What Mobile Sports Wagering in NY Could Look Like

If mobile sports wagering were to be allowed in New York, it first would have to go through the normal legislation cycle. After a bill is introduced and passed, the laws would have to be written with all the regulations.

While New Yorkers may be eager to place online sports wagers in their state, it would likely take a few months at least to get everything in place. The good news, though, is that many sports wagering companies that are operating in nearby states could have an easier time launching online sportsbooks in New York.

DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook, for example, could be two companies at the forefront of offering mobile sportsbooks in New York. Those two companies once operated daily fantasy sports sites in New York. That means they’re familiar with the region and could set up shop pretty quickly once legislation is passed.

Other popular online sportsbooks are likely to jump in quickly as well. After all, the potential for revenue is very high in New York. The numbers already speak for themselves with how many New Yorkers wager online in New Jersey.

If online sports wagering were to be legalized in New York, it’s likely even more people would take part — especially since they wouldn’t have to travel from the comfort of their own home.

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Tim Ronaldson
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Tim Ronaldson is a writer, blogger and marketer. He loves all things sports, especially covering the sports betting industry. He joined the AmericaGambles Team 2020 and is mainly responsible for columns and extensive reportage articles.
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