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Mobile Sports Betting Firmly Back on the New York Radar

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Mobile Sports Betting Firmly Back on the New York Radar
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on December 14, 2020.(Photo by Hans PENNINK / POOL / AFP)

The on-again, off-again relationship between the state of New York and legal, mobile sports betting seems to be on-again. Up until now, New York has been OK with its retail-only platform. The problem for New York is that their four up-and-running retail casinos reside up-state, far away from the major urban centers that would certainly make it more viable.

But one statement from New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, a long-established outspoken opponent of expansion of the state’s legal sports betting platform prior to Christmas has created a new sense of optimism that New York will have expanded betting sooner rather than later.

In a news conference, Cuomo went on record saying about his state’s dire financial crisis: “Are there other ways to get revenue? How about marijuana? How about sports betting? So, if the legislature wants to do the budget now, we can do that.”

Reasons for the Possible Turnaround

Governor Cuomo, in his press conference December 16 was pressed on the financial situation of the state. Raising taxes was one of the plans to get New York out of its COVID-19 hole, but sports betting was also put on the radar as a way to generate some extra tax revenue for state and local coffers.

New York faces an estimated $17 billion budget shortfall. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has already announced $10 billion in spending cuts because of the COVID-19 situation – some think that a 20% cut in educational funding is in the cards.

Simply put, New York needs cash, and is being forced to at least consider other avenues to create revenue. And for the first time, Governor Cuomo seems to be at least partially on board.

”I would hope and expect sports betting will be back on our radar, especially now that the federal government has not given any kind of local and state aid back to us. This is a revenue-generating bill that could help our state immediately, without even being in the current budget discussion,” said New York State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.-D.

Learning from the Neighbors

The state of New York need not look too far to see how a robust and expansive legal sports betting platform that includes mobile can benefit a state. New Jersey, for instance, has consistently come in as king of the bet-friendly states thanks mostly to their acceptance and promotion of mobile betting – something that New York doesn’t have.

$872 million, or 93.6% of a record-$931,620,415 handle in November in New Jersey should open a few eyes. Revenue for November alone in New Jersey was $50.6 million – New York came in a fraction of that at $2.6 million.

About $6.2 million in taxes were generated for New Jersey’s needy state and local coffers off November’s revenues alone. Some estimates have 25% of sports betting revenues in New Jersey coming from New York bettors.

Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana – all part of the top-6 states in terms of gambling dollars taken in have reported near or at 90% of their monthly handles coming via mobile apps. Pennsylvania, the biggest in terms of population among that group has 12 million residents – New York has 20 million.

Something Has to Be Done

The state of New York, like many jurisdictions in the US are in dire straits as we end 2020, and it looks like the Federal Government, for the time-being has been reluctant to help states out. So, it is time to get creative.

“It’s the first time [in his December 16th press conference] that the governor has mentioned it publicly and it could be a step forward to a bill moving closer to the goal line,” New York State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.-D recently said. “However, we can do this separately without the budget. This can be done on its own and the need for revenue is now. I mean, with the down-state licenses that could be enabled, along with mobile sports betting enacted, I believe you are looking a billion dollars right off the bat.”

Possibility of Sports Betting Expansion for New York

Many analysts have cautioned that a New York mobile sports betting platform in 2021 is far from an assured bet. But after years of resistance in the state, increased budgetary shortfalls could realistically expedite the whole process.

The 2021 New York budget, by law, must be submitted by April, meaning that we will soon know if Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo and his team of gambling-expansion crusaders have succeeded in their attempts to bring about the inevitable.

The $17 billion budget shortfall issue isn’t going to solve itself and tax increases or spending cuts aren’t exactly a politicians’ best friend. Governor Cuomo seems painted into a corner when it comes to the legalization of mobile sports betting, and that may ultimately turn out to be a good thing.

While not assured, the fact that legal sports betting expansion, mobile in particular, is on the Governor’s mind is the first and long-awaited step. Look for other steps to fall in line as New York mobile sports betting gains momentum at the end of a tumultuous 2020.