New York operators and lawmakers are equally desperate for online sports betting as the state needs more revenue sources due to the pandemic. The Empire State currently allows for sports betting at physical sportsbooks only in the Upstate part of New York. Like all other states, the shutdowns have cost New York badly, and online sports betting may help increase state revenue.
New York is currently losing all of this potential source of revenue to New Jersey and Rhode Island, where bettors can go and place a wager on their phones. The resulting situation has now come to boiling point, making both lawmakers and stakeholders realize they have missed a lot.
On Tuesday, Jeff Gural, a managing partner at New Jersey’s Meadowlands Racetrack and owner of New York’s Tioga Downs, represented the stakeholders’ desperation in the following words: “Casinos would go along with whatever the state of New York wants to do. This is an emergency.”
Gural’s statement came in response to an ongoing discussion about whether or not the state’s casinos would agree to allow two “skins,” or digital sportsbook brands, for each of their casinos. For instance, New Jersey allows up to three skins per licensed land-based property, and Meadowlands has partnered with both FanDuel and PointsBet for online betting in the Garden State.
Stakeholders Want to Remove Hurdles For Online Gambling
Before Tuesday, it was perceived that New York’s casino operators wanted to allow only a single skin. But following Gural’s suggestions during a Betting on Sports America Digital Conference panel regarding regulation in the state reflects the stakeholders’ willingness to bend for the sake of the industry. Both lawmakers and stakeholders must work jointly to avoid further bottlenecks impeding regulated statewide mobile sports betting.
So, What is the Problem?
Sports betting is currently legal in the Empire State, but only at in-person sportsbook locations at four upstate casinos, which first opened in June 2019. But a major obstacle for the industry’s further growth is the lack of support from Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is not a great fan of sports betting. Since 2018, the governor’s office has maintained that a constitutional amendment is required to include online sports betting in New York.
However, the executive indifference may be tempted by the adverse impact caused by the COVID-19 crisis and the increased economic burden on the state due to it.
Since 2018, stakeholders have been lobbying through various sports personalities to influence the lawmakers, who have drafted several bills since then. Despite all the stakeholders, including casinos and the professional leagues, have been involved in the debate, there has been no practical result. New York online wagering is yet to see the light of the day.
Will a ‘Veto-Proof’ Legislation Bring Online Betting to NY?
Earlier this week, the state senator Joe Addabbo suggested veto-proof legislation. His House fellow and counterpart, Gary Pretlow, also said a measure would be incorporated in the House budget and would likely be proposed before the turn of the year. However, if it’s not proposed, said Pretlow, the House and Senate would stand together when Gov. Cuomo presents the budget in January.
Pretlow further said that both chambers would include sports betting as part of the revenue package this year. “Last year, the Senate did. The Assembly did not do it. This year, I’m pretty sure the Assembly will do it (too).”
He claimed to have enough support from his colleagues, who know that New York needs the money ahead of the revenue deficiencies in 2021 as compared to this year.
New York Has Huge Potential
The State Senate Bill 17D would authorize the Empire State’s seven retail casinos to operate an online/mobile sportsbook. Once legalized, New York has the potential of becoming a huge market and could draw as much as $900 million in annual revenue. According to NY Sports Day projections, the state of New York may gain $108 million in tax revenue from online sports betting legalization.
However, if New York allows for two skins per sportsbook, the expanded market could bring in $1.3 billion in annual revenue for the Empire State’s online sports betting industry. The state would draw $156 million in yearly tax revenue and an overall $168 million in licensing fees from 14 skins.
However, Addabbo considers that even if the House passed a budget bill before the end of this year, it would take some time to see financial benefits from the measure. The earliest possible date to implement the measure won’t be until April, which means New York will miss the two biggest events of 2021, the Super Bowl and March Madness.