Wed, Jan 6, 2021
ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo is finally willing to wager on mobile sports betting.
The governor, who has long pushed back against legalizing online sports betting, will make the revenue-generating measure a central part of his policy proposals to be laid out in next week’s State of the State address.
Cuomo’s gamble, which comes as neighboring New Jersey continues to dominate the online wagering market, is one part of the governor’s efforts to lessen the financial impacts of the COVID crisis.
“New York has the potential to be the largest sports wagering market in the United States, and by legalizing online sports betting we aim to keep millions of dollars in tax revenue here at home, which will only strengthen our ability to rebuild from the COVID-19 crisis,” Cuomo said in a statement.
The governor’s embrace of mobile sports betting comes as the coronavirus pandemic has ravaged New York’s finances and officials seek new ways to make up for a multibillion-dollar budget gap.
While Cuomo has repeatedly expressed reluctance about raising taxes before Washington decides whether to approve aid to states and localities, he first softened his stance on online sports betting last month.
“Are there other ways to get revenue? How about marijuana? How about sports betting?” the governor said during a December news conference.
Mobile sports betting could be quite the boon to the Empire State. In November, New Jersey recorded a sports betting handle of $931.6 million, outpacing even Nevada and breaking a previous one-month record.
New Jersey sports books brought in $50.6 million in revenue and the Garden State recorded $6.2 million of that in taxes.
A recent industry survey found that nearly 20% of New Jersey’s sports wagering revenue comes from New York residents who cross into the Garden State to place wagers.
“At a time when New York faces a historic budget deficit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the current online sports wagering structure incentivizes a large segment of New York residents to travel out of state to make online sports wagers or continue to patronize black markets,” Cuomo said.
While the governor has argued in the past that a new constitutional amendment would be needed before online sports betting could be legalized, his proposal will require mobile sports operators to be licensed by the state and partnered with a licensed gaming facility.
It appears to mirror revamped legislation unveiled last year that would place the servers running the online operations at upstate casinos with currently approved physical sports books, which supporters say would be allowed under current gambling rules and regulations.
Under Cuomo’s proposal, the New York State Gaming Commission will issue a request for proposals to offer mobile sports wagering in the state.
The commission will also expand existing integrity programs to ensure any entity operating mobile gaming apps implement all necessary safeguards against abuses and addiction.