With the ongoing coronavirus outbreak threatening to overwhelm New York’s hospital system, Governor Andrew Cuomo has taken center stage to inform the nation.
But even as his attention is understandably focused on mitigating the local impact of coronavirus transmission, he is still tasked with overseeing the Empire State’s non-medical governance, like the issue of mobile sports betting – And New York online / mobile sports betting has recently been shelved in the new budget by Governor Andrew Cumo.
To that end, Cuomo has roundly rejected any attempt to use the budget process as a vehicle to legalize and regulate online / mobile sports betting.
New York launched legal sports betting in July of last year, but the industry was limited to brick and mortar bet shops. At the time – with New York already facing a $6 billion budget deficit before the coronavirus outbreak caused chaos throughout the American economy – Cuomo devoted a portion of his 2021 fiscal year executive budget proposal speech to opposing online / mobile sportsbooks:
“There’s no gimmicks. There’s no new casino revenue.
This is not the time to come up with creative although irresponsible revenue sources to solve a problem which doesn’t really exist.”
Cuomo clearly has more important matters on his mind – as New York’s country-high coronavirus death toll topped 1,500 on Tuesday – so he elected to shut online / mobile sports betting out of current budget discussions.
Sports Betting Sponsors Speak Out After Cuomo’s Decision
State senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr. (D-15), a key sponsor of both land-based and online / mobile sports betting, spoke to Legal Sports Report about his disappointment over the Governor’s decision:
“What is so astonishing is that we had a need for revenue before the virus crisis, and we’re still being asked to make cuts to health care.
Unbelievable. Totally irresponsible.”
Despite the state senate’s apparent support for including online / mobile sportsbooks in the latest budget outline, Cuomo’s decision may have been merely pragmatic in nature.
Assemblyman Carl Heastie (D-83), who serves as Speaker of the New York State Assembly, has previously gone on record to oppose expanding New York’s newly regulated sports wagering industry.
Asked about Heastie’s alliance with Cuomo, Addabbo told Legal Sports Report that their efforts were futile given the strong likelihood that New York joins regional neighbors New Jersey and Pennsylvania in offering the vertical:
“All the governor and the speaker are doing is delaying the inevitable because mobile sports betting in New York is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ and we need the revenue now.
I believe we need to examine all credible revenue options regardless of any apprehensions.
We should be exploring both mobile and the three licenses given that the need for current and future revenue is evident.”
NY Currently Watches Millions Flow to Nw Jersey Neighbors
Back in March of last year, Cuomo clarified his position on online / mobile sportsbooks in stark terms:
“Sports betting, first of all, does not make you that much money.
They raised something like $13 million – $13 million is a rounding error in our state [budget].
I am not a fan . . . [of when] you can bet anytime from your cellphone.”
As of now, only four of New York’s 25 commercial and tribal casinos are authorized to offer onsite sports betting:
- Resorts World Catskills (Monticello)
- Rivers Casino and Resort (Schenectady)
- Tioga Downs (Southern Tier)
- del Lago Resort and Casino (Finger Lakes)
With his city currently applying for the licenses required to operate a sportsbook at Empire City Casino in Yonkers, City Council Minority Leader Mike Breen urged state lawmakers to expedite expansion of the lucrative industry:
“It’s driving over the bridge, millions of dollars. That money could have been bet at the MGM casino with some money coming back to the city of Yonkers.
It’s not a big thing that this can’t happen. It’s happening at other casinos upstate.
We’re asking that people can come to the MGM Casino and place a bet on sports rather than driving over the bridge and spending that money in New Jersey.”