Last Updated on July 17, 2020
Online sports betting is coming to New York sooner or later. Sports betting is already legal in New York, but it’s confined to a few upstate locations, making it nearly impossible for New Yorkers who live downstate to take part in the action. With the coronavirus pandemic putting a dent in the state’s coffers, lawmakers are considering the revenue that online sports betting can bring to the state.
NY Constitutional Amendment Needed
New York lawmakers are convening for a special session next week to begin the constitutional amendment process on online sports betting. State Senator Joseph Addabbo tells me that the Governor’s office is indicating that a constitutional amendment is needed in order to pass online sports betting. The constitutional amendment process could take until 2022 for online sports betting.
With that said, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is now conducting some informal polling on what New York lawmakers think about mobile sports betting according to the New York Post. This indicates that Speaker Heastie and Governor Cuomo could be open to online sports betting in New York as early as 2020. This legislative route would not need a constitutional amendment. State lawmakers who didn’t support mobile sports betting in the past are changing their tune due to the unprecedented circumstances of 2020.
“I was not favorably inclined in the past. But I’m open to mobile sports betting now because of the economic environment we’re in,” said Assemblyman Tom Abinanti (D-Tarrytown) via The Post.
Losing Revenue To New Jersey
New Yorkers near the New Jersey border routinely travel across state lines to place bets. A report from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming estimates that New Yorkers spent $837 million on sports betting in New Jersey last year. That’s a lot of potential tax revenue that New York is leaving on the table.
Although Governor Cuomo has been hesitant to push for online sports betting in the past, there is optimism that he could change his position as he’s done on a few other major policy items.
“I know when the Governor wants to do something, we do it,” Senator Addabbo explained. “When we want to do gun control, we do it. We want to do medical marijuana, we do it. We want to do paid family leave — these are all items, at least paid family leave and medical marijuana, he said no to… I’m hoping he does the same with mobile sports betting.”
New York state lawmakers tend to believe that online sports betting is necessary and should happen in 2020. The ball is in Governor Cuomo’s court now.