New York Lawmakers Counter Cuomo’s State-Run Model Proposal in Mobile Sports Betting Bill

  • Gov. Cuomo outlined plans for a state-run mobile sports betting market last Wednesday
  • In contrast, Addabbo and Pretlow's proposed bill permits two mobile skins per commercial casino
  • Similar to failed 2019 legislation, it includes a 12% gross revenue tax and $12m operator fee
  • Cuomo favors a lottery-style model in an attempt to counter the financial impact of COVID-19
US map zooms in on New York state
Two New York lawmakers have put forward a new online sports betting bill which counters Gov. Cuomo’s plans for a lottery-style state-run market. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Update: The New York sports betting bill progressed as the Senate voted S1183 out of committee on January 19, with the Assembly passing A1257 the following day.

Competing visions for a new market

Two New York legislators have proposed a competing online sports betting bill after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his intentions to introduce a lottery-style market in the Empire State.

Last week, a report from the NY Daily News confirmed Gov. Cuomo’s intention to include a mobile sports betting bill in his policy proposals for 2021. Asked about the report on Wednesday, Cuomo outlined plans for a mobile market that would run in the same way the state runs the lottery. He said this would allow the state to take the majority of revenue generated, fueling post-COVID-19 financial recovery.

The lawmakers jointly filed S1183 and A1257 on Thursday evening

However, Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow have other ideas for New York’s market. The lawmakers jointly filed S1183 and A1257 on Thursday evening. Together, these make for a more traditional bill that would enable the state’s commercial casinos to partner with two mobile operators each.

Further details of the proposal

Gov. Cuomo’s announcement last week opened the door for a legal mobile sports betting market in New York. This is something Sen. Addabbo has been battling for since the state launched its land-based sports betting market in 2019. With the help of Pretlow, Addabbo put his weight behind a similar mobile betting bill that same year. However, lawmakers dropped A6113 before it could reach the Assembly floor.

Previously, Gov. Cuomo expressed his opposition to a mobile sports betting market in the Empire State. Despite passing land-based sports betting legislation, he insisted that the legalization of online betting would require a constitutional amendment. This opposition meant A6113 never reached the Assembly floor in 2019, even though it passed the Senate by a 57-5 vote.

Addabbo and Pretlow’s new bill varies slightly from its 2019 counterpart. The main difference is the inclusion of two mobile operator skins per licensee, instead of one each. This concerns the state’s four commercial casinos. However, the bill also makes provisions for New York’s tribal casinos to opt into the mobile market if they so choose.

the inclusion of two mobile operator skins per licensee, instead of one each

A number of the bill’s other policies remain unchanged. The legislation sets out a $12m licensee fee to operate mobile betting, in addition to a 12% gross revenue tax. This is higher than the 8.5% rate currently set for land-based sports betting operators. The bill also permits professional sports stadiums and off-track betting facilities to partner with casinos to launch betting kiosks on-site.

Vital funds for the Empire State

Gov. Cuomo has made clear that he intends the new online market to counter the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The state has struggled to recover since lockdowns in March 2020. Recently, coronavirus cases have spiked once more, prompting warnings of a potential second lockdown this month.

During a COVID-19 briefing last Wednesday, Gov. Cuomo argued that by allowing operators to run their own gambling operations, many other states were currently losing out on revenue. “That makes a lot of money for casinos, but it makes minimal money for the state,” the governor explained. He added:

And I’m not here to make casinos a lot of money. I’m here to raise funds for the state.”

Gov. Cuomo said New York must raise $15bn per year in the next two budget cycles. In maintaining autonomy over its entire online sports betting market, the state can raise up to $500m per year, according to state budget director Robert Mujica. In comparison, Addabbo and Pretlow say their bill can generate $79m in annual state revenue based on “conservative market estimates”.

Gov. Cuomo will deliver his State of the State address on Monday. Within this, he will set out New York’s budget for 2021, expected to include plans for the state’s mobile gambling market.