New York Governor backs mobile sports betting

New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo has reversed his stance on mobile sports betting.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has reversed his stance on mobile sports betting and is expected to make online betting a central part of his policy outlook when he makes his State of the State address on 11 January.

Cuomo has consistently opposed the legalisation of mobile betting in past years and argued that the state would need a constitutional amendment to legalise the activity.

As the state of New York is in dire financial straits as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the legalisation of online sports betting could help generate new tax revenue for the Empire State.

In a statement, Cuomo said: “At a time when New York faces a historic budget deficit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the current online sports wagering structure incentivizes a large segment of New York residents to travel out of state to make online sports wagers or continue to patronize black markets.”

How big could the market be?

The Governor’s announcement comes after he listed sports betting and legalising marijuana, at a press conference last month, as potential revenue sources for the $60bn revenue shortfall the state is facing.

Cuomo said: “New York has the potential to be the largest sports wagering market in the United States, and by legalizing online sports betting we aim to keep millions of dollars in tax revenue here at home, which will only strengthen our ability to rebuild from the COVID-19 crisis.”

Last year, New York Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr claimed that the state could generate $60m in licensing fees and $30m in annual tax revenue.

Addabbo is also chairman of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee and has previously stated that the first year of online sports betting could bring approximately $100 million in tax revenue to New York.

In a statement, Addabbo said: “It is encouraging to hear that Governor Cuomo will embrace mobile sports betting in his State of the State Address. 

“By legalizing mobile sports betting, New York will be able to reap the benefits of the economic gains it will create and help the state rebuild after the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to increasing educational funding, addressing illegal activity in the state and assisting those with gaming addictions. I look forward to working with the Governor and his office to efficiently implement mobile sports betting for the people of New York.”

What will New York online betting look like?

According to the Governor’s announcement, the New York State Gaming Commission will issue a request for proposals to select and license a sports operator or platform to offer mobile sports wagering in New York. The operator or platform must be tethered with one of the land-based commercial casinos in the state.

In addition to this, the state regulator will also require any entity operating mobile wagering apps to include safeguards against abuses and addiction.

This would allow any of the state’s current sports betting operators, which includes FanDuel, DraftKings and BetRivers, to apply for a licence.

Sports betting in New York

The Empire State legalized land-based sports wagering through the 2013 New York Economic Gaming Act. The passage of this law allowed four upstate casinos in New York to offer sports betting if the federal law prohibiting the activity was amended or overturned.

New York officially launched legal and regulated sports betting in July 2019, with the opening of the sportsbook at the Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady. A FanDuel branded sportsbook at Tioga Downs and the DraftKings Sportsbook at Del Lago opened shortly after sports betting in New York went live.

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