New York Could Have Mobile Sports Betting This Spring

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New York mobile sportsbooks could go live as early as this spring under a new state budget set to take effect next week.  

That’s the word from New York State Assemblyman and Racing and Wagering Chair J. Gary Pretlow, who said in an interview today that New York mobile sports betting legalization – now being negotiated in budget talks between the Assembly and Senate – is expected to have the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo by the time the new fiscal year (FY) starts April 1.

Any chance that legalization of mobile sportsbooks could be vetoed is minimized by the budget process itself, Pretlow explained. 

“We take our one budget, and negotiate with the governor to reconcile the governor’s budget and the legislative budget,” said Pretlow. “That’s why we want the governor’s approval. Because he can’t veto himself.” 

From Competing Proposals To One Proposal

The FY 2022 budget is being drawn from two one-year budgets passed in recent weeks by the Assembly and Senate. Both of the one-year budgets would legalize mobile sports betting. Now, lawmakers from both houses are trying to decide what mobile sports betting in New York would look like. 

Pretlow said the Assembly proposal would allow the state to license 14 mobile skins among casinos in the state, with two skins per commercial and tribal casino. The idea is for New York to keep some of the mobile sports betting revenue now going to neighboring states New Jersey and Pennsylvania, where New Yorkers can bet mobile by simply crossing state lines. 

It’s a different proposal than the one floated early this year by Cuomo. He previously said that he wants mobile sportsbooks run through a single operator. The governor announced in January that his proposal could net the state $500M a year in new revenue. However, he’s been mum on the issue for weeks. 

Benefit Of Mobile Sports Betting To New York State

Pretlow said New York mobile sports betting could net the state about $200 million initially and at least $100 million going forward under current legislative proposals. 

That’s if the state goes through with approval of 14 mobile skins, licensed at $12M each, with a 12-percent tax on mobile wagers. But the legislature could always write into its budget a plan to draw down more state revenue. 

“In the negotiations, we may have to boost that up. We can do anything — we raise the tax rate, we can raise the licensing fee,” said Pretlow. 

That’s not likely, though, he said, considering that the state’s federal stimulus allotment has erased any need for tax increases next fiscal year. He added that mobile sports betting would provide less than a fraction of one percent in revenue to New York. This, of course, is a state with an annual budget exceeding $208B. 

Why Pretlow Likes The Multi-Operator Approach

Even if New York doesn’t go for a bigger tax draw, lawmakers appear set on allowing more than one operator in on the mobile betting action. Pretlow said he thinks there are a few key benefits to a competitive multi-operator mobile sports betting system in New York: 

  • It gives the public a choice. Pretlow said states that have adopted single-skin models have not had much success. 
  • It takes the onus for losses off New York state. Per Pretlow: Sports betting is one of the few areas where the bookie can lose. I don’t want to have that on the state’s back; that should be on the bookie’s back.” 
  • It creates jobs by keeping spending inside state lines. 

When Could Mobile Apps Launch?

Legal mobile sports betting in New York would launch under the oversight of the New York State Gaming Commission. When that launch would take place depends on how quickly the commission gets a bidding process and regulations in place, said Pretlow. 

“They really should be working on that right now, knowing that there will be some form of sports betting coming after April 1. So, they should have been working on it all along,” he said.

Upstate casinos are reportedly already lining up mobile betting vendors in anticipation of a launch in the weeks or months ahead. Retail sports betting was legalized at the casinos in 2019. 

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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