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Sports betting made early budget subcommittee talks between the New York State Assembly and Senate today as lawmakers hurry to pass a proposal by April 1 that could include legalization of mobile sports wagering.

The issue was raised by New York Assembly Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce, and Industry Committee Chair Harry Bronson, a small business owner and co-chair of the economic development joint budget subcommittee. Bronson said “any open issues” remaining between the Assembly and Senate regarding the New York State Gaming Commission will be part of budget talks.

“We will continue to have conversations, and try to move forward, and try to resolve any open issues that we have between the Assembly and the Senate in the area of economic development and the New York State Gaming Commission,” said Bronson.

It remains to be seen what the specific issues are that Bronson is talking about. But mobile sports betting is clearly on the radar of the commission, which regulates all gaming in New York, including retail sports betting now legal at upstate casinos.

NYS Gaming Commission 2020 Study

The commission knows the economic potential of mobile sports wagering in New York State. A January 2020 study completed for the commission by Spectrum Gaming Group estimated that retail and mobile sports wagering combined could generate upwards of $104 million in annual revenue at a tax rate of 10 percent.

That study recommended that New York State consider competitive bids for a “most optimal result for the State.” Competition would likely be limited under a one operator lottery-based model that was proposed early this year by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Legislative Budget Proposal

The governor’s lottery-based model isn’t found in the one-house budgets that are part of budget conference discussions in Albany this week.  

Legislators have instead proposed authorizing mobile sports betting operations through existing casinos, with a 12-percent tax on gross gaming revenue.  That would eliminate Cuomo’s proposal for a lottery-based procurement model that centers on platform operators chosen through a competitive bidding process overseen by the commission.

Sen. Joseph Addabbo – the lead sponsor of mobile sports betting legislation in the Senate – has a say in budget negotiations as a member of the joint budget subcommittee on Economic Development. Addabbo said today he appreciates the chance to help revive the state economy “while we also look at finding where we can not only protect jobs, but increase jobs in certain markets.”

Next Steps

The New York Senate Majority announced the addition of legalized mobile sports wagering in its one-house budget in a March 15 press release. That release called the budget proposal a “principled approach” to solving New York State’s short- and long-term economic issues.

It’s the same message of helping New York rise above massive COVID-19 losses that was part of opening comments in the Joint Budget Subcommittee on Economic Development by Senate Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business Chair Sen. Anna Kaplan.

“It’s important that this budget appropriately invests in keeping our small businesses open and thriving so that our economy can recover, and our residents can get back to work,” said Kaplan. She went on to add: “Now is the time that we should be investing in programs that diversify our economy and create the jobs of the future.”

The New York Assembly and Senate have about two weeks to reach a budget agreement. The next fiscal year starts on April 1.

About the Author

Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region and covers legislative developments at Gaming Today. She worked as a public affairs specialist for 23 years at the Kentucky State Capitol. A University of Kentucky grad, she has been known to watch UK basketball from time to time.

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