New York to play the waiting game

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For those who live in New York State and hoped to have the convenience of being able to make a legal bet on a football game next fall, you’re going to have to wait.

The folks in Albany do not appear to be in any rush to pass legislation for sports betting in the Empire State. Which is music to the ears of their neighbors across the Hudson River.

As far as New Jersey is concerned, New York can take its sweet time before opening a sports book. Jim Murren and MGM Resorts beg to differ. They’re going to take over Yonkers Raceway and they have big plans for the harness track just north of the New York City border. And part of that plan is to have a sports book.

But until the state legislature gets around to passing the bill and have Gov. Andrew Cuomo sign it, Yonkers is going to have to settle for being without a book.

Meanwhile, the Jerseyites have their own little battle with government – the United States government. I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the proposed bill  in the Senate co-authored by Chuck Schumer and Orrin Hatch which would have given the Department of Justice oversight over the states when it came to running a sports betting operation.

The bill, which was introduced   a week before Christmas, didn’t see the light of day as Congress shut down, just like much of the federal government, before any action could be taken. But that doesn’t mean it won’t find fresh legs and a new co-sponsor (Hatch has retired from the Senate). 

So here’s former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie telling the Feds to butt out. Christie addressed a gaming convention in New Orleans last Friday and said there’s no need for the Feds to get involved.

“We don’t need a federal solution to this problem,” Christie said. “States have been regulating gambling for decades without incident.”

Problem? Who said there was a problem that needed a solution? Perhaps a poor choice of words on the ex-Gov’s part. But Christie has the right idea.

Meanwhile, New Jersey’s neighbors to the west in Pennsylvania are about to grow their sports betting tentacles as Parx opened its sports book Tuesday, becoming the third venue in the state to have a location to accept wagers. Parx, located outside of Philadelphia in Bensalem, joined SugarHouse in Philly and Rivers in Pittsburgh as places to make a sports bet in the Keystone State.

And that’s significant. Why? The timing is perfect. The Philadelphia Eagles have kept their season alive thanks to a missed field goal in the final seconds of Sunday’s Wild Card game in Chicago and you know their fans are going to be lined up this weekend at Parx and SugarHouse to take the points against the Saints. The handle figures to be enormous at the books in Pennsylvania.

It also means more revenue for the state.  And Connecticut is seeing what’s going on and the politicians in Hartford are moving quickly and working in concert with the Indian tribes that run the state’s two casinos – Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods – to get legislation passed and bring sports betting to  Connecticut. 

Which brings me back to New York’s lallygagging over legalizing sports betting.

I haven’t lived in New York in 40-plus years, but I’m guessing the state could use some extra dollarsfor its coffers. Having sports books as well as mobile phone wagering would likely boost revenues and be used for various things to help the public’s quality of life.

But things don’t seem to happen quickly there. I recall how long it took to approve mixed martial arts and the years Marc Ratner, the vice president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, spent lobbying in Albany to get the bill passed so the UFC could stage a card at Madison Square Garden as well as other venues around the state..

The unfortunate bus incident in Brooklyn last October between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov aside, the UFC has helped bring revenue to New York State and it has worked out well. Sports betting, which is a much bigger revenue stream, is waiting to be tapped into

In the meantime, the steady stream of New Yorkers who own phone accounts in New Jersey and go across the Hudson to bet will continue. And the politicians in Trenton will be most appreciative..

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About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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