New York Legal Online Sports Betting Looking Unlikely in 2020

  • Andrew Cuomo's 2021 budget proposal does not include allowance for online sports betting
  • Proposed budget provision permits retail sportsbooks to offer betting outside betting lounges
  • Governor believes constitutional amendment needed to approve online activity
  • Slim chance lawmakers will push for legal online sports betting by June 2
Statue of Liberty against blurred New York background
Online sports betting legalization does not look likely for New York in 2020 after it failed to feature in Governor Cuomo’s annual budget proposal address. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A disappointment for New Yorkers

Fans of sports betting in New York are unlikely to be able to place online sports bets in 2020, judging by comments from Governor Andrew Cuomo in his budget proposal address.

an existing 2018 ban on mobile sports wagering largely unaltered

Cuomo released his proposal for the annual budget for the fiscal year 2021 on Tuesday. It includes a small-scale expansion of the legal retail sports betting market currently operating in the state, but leaves an existing 2018 ban on mobile sports wagering largely unaltered.

Cuomo’s plan for retail sportsbooks

Governor Cuomo’s proposed budget would allow retail sports betting to take place outside the sportsbook lounges of the state’s commercial and tribal casinos. This would see the gambling facilities potentially able to open up external betting windows or self-service betting kiosks in different areas of their property.

The four upstate commercial casinos in New York have legal retail sportsbooks open. Some of the tribal gambling facilities in the state also run retail sportsbooks. Currently, these operators are not allowed to offer mobile or online wagering. New Yorkers looking to place a sports bet have to travel upstate or cross over the border into New Jersey. 

The upstate commercial casinos were authorized in 2015. However, they have not been very successful to date, with some of them veering close to bankruptcy. The revenue projections for these casinos have been significantly underwhelming in comparison to previous estimates.

The road to legal online sports betting

Governor Cuomo has remained insistent that a constitutional amendment would be needed to legalize online sports betting in the Empire State. This would see the issue go to a public vote for final approval. 

legalization could generate $1bn in revenue annually for the state

One of the main proponents for legal online sports betting in New York is Senator Addabbo Jr. He believes no such constitutional amendment is required, and that legalization could generate $1bn in revenue annually for the state. 

Addabbo had been hoping Cuomo would change his stance on the issue. However, the budget address on Tuesday shows this is not yet the case. 

Despite having to deal with a budget deficit of $6bn, Cuomo believes that allowing online sports betting could be irresponsible. He said, “This is not the time to come up with creative although irresponsible revenue sources to solve a problem which doesn’t really exist.”

Is there any hope?

The budget proposal address certainly dampens the chances of legal online sports betting for New Yorkers in 2020.

However, the respective legislative chambers could still negotiate a compromise before April 1. This is the date by which the houses are to submit their own budget proposals and agree on a final version. It is also possible for online wagering legislation to be introduced and gain approval before the end of the legislative session on June 2. 

Addabbo reacted, saying, “I am hopeful that mobile sports betting is on a similar road as some other issues, such as paid family leave and medical marijuana, which were initially rejected by the governor.”