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New York Budget Does Not Include Online Sports Betting

23rd January, 23:05

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has no immediate plans to embrace an expansion of a new sports gambling law to include online wagering.

The Democrat released his 2020 state budget plan Jan. 21, and it is silent -- to the disappointment of some lawmakers -- on the issue of online sports betting.

Horse racing interests, led by the New York Racing Association, have pressed to legalize online sports betting and permit tracks to offer both online and in-person sports wagering. Presently, sports wagering -- limited mostly to professional sports contests, though not horse racing -- is conducted at several commercial and Native American-owned casinos in upstate New York.

Some advocates believed, mistakenly as it turned out, that the state's $6.1 billion deficit would push Cuomo to seek sources of revenue, such as mobile and online sports wagering, as budget-balancing mechanisms.

But the governor's only mention of the issue, contained in thousands of pages of budget documents, was a plan to permit expanded opportunities for people to make bets within existing casino facilities. Sports betting in New York is allowed only in the state's four commercial casinos upstate, along with Native American-owned gambling halls. Those operations were permitted in 2019 after the issuance of new state Gaming Commission regulations.

Sen. Joseph Addabbo, a Queens Democrat who chairs the Senate's racing, gaming, and wagering committee, is seeking to again legalize mobile sports betting in the state, emphasizing "the importance of implementing sports betting in New York and not to miss an opportunity to raise much needed revenue" to balance the budget and provide money for an array of spending priorities.

The senator is scheduled to hold a hearing Feb. 12 in Albany on another matter being closely monitored by some racing interests: whether the state should move earlier than planned to open three new commercial casinos. Downstate locations are already being eyed by proponents, and Addabbo and others believe the state should begin a casino bidding process now instead of waiting several years.

The Senate approved Addabbo's sports betting legislation last year, but a companion bill died in the Assembly, where many lawmakers in the Democratic-controlled chamber opposed further expansion of gambling they said would be especially prolific if done via online and mobile means.

At the same time, there were questions whether Cuomo would propose any major sports betting expansion while his state Gaming Commission has a study already underway by an outside contractor to look at an array of gambling issues.

A draft report is not due to be submitted until April 1; the state budget for 2020 is due to be approved by Cuomo and lawmakers the day before if it is to be on time for the fiscal year's start. The submission for the study's final report is due June 1. That is one day before lawmakers are due to end their 2020 session.