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Senator Addabbo Pushing for Mobile Sports Betting in New York

Addabbo Fighting for Mobile Wagering in New York

The fight to get mobile wagering in New York state has been a contentious battle. Those in favor only need to point to the tens of millions of dollars every month from Manhattan pouring into the New Jersey sports betting market. At the moment, over 80% of all wagers in the Garden State come via mobile/online bets. The same thing is happening in nearby Pennsylvania as well. It's very obvious that once New York finally legalizes mobile wagering up and running, revenue will skyrocket.

The question is what's the holdup?

The answer is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who insists that voters statewide need to approve a Constitutional amendment to allow for sports betting to be offered online first. That means that unless Cuomo changes his mind, a referendum would be required which would take some time to get off the ground. In that case, the referendum would be drawn up by the state Senate and Assembly, not the Governor. Even that path has its own roadblock in the form of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie who seems to agree with Cuomo on the matter.

Cuomo Blocked a Mobile Betting Bill Back in June

At the end of the year's legislative session back in June, bill SO 1490, which sought to allow mobile wagering in New York stalled due to Governor Cuomo not being on board. The bill never even drew a vote in the state Assembly which is how we got to where we are now.

SO 1490, filed by Joseph Addabbo was the second bill he introduced after S117 also failed to gain momentum. The major difference between SO 1490 and the first bill was the language that made it clear that a Constitutional amendment would be required to take New York sports betting beyond the retail casinos located upstate.

As if that wasn't complicated enough, two legislatures would have to agree to send the issue to voters. In layman's terms, two legislatures equal two years which means that this issue could go into 2021 before progress is made.

Mobile Option for Horse Racing Happened Without a Referendum

In 1939, the state Constitution was amended to authorize gambling on horses but the Legislature limited the betting to wagers placed "within the grounds or enclosure of a race track. Obviously, at the time, online and mobile wagering was not a concern. Fast forward to 2006 when the Legislature approved online and mobile wagering on horse racing. There was no Constitutional amendment was necessary at the time which Addabbo has pointed out to Cuomo several times. There has been no reason given by Cuomo as to why he will not accept that as an answer.

In fact, New Jersey seems to have gotten around a similar problem without much fuss. New Jersey's Constitution confines casino gambling to Atlantic City. So the state simply got around that by placing the servers and hardware necessary to allow mobile wagering statewide in Atlantic City. There is no reason why New York couldn't simply place their servers at the retail casinos upstate and move forward with mobile betting that way.

The problem is until Governor Andrew Cuomo gets on board with that or any other ideas from supporters of mobile wagering, New Yorkers will have to continue driving or taking public transportation across state lines to Jersey place their legal sports wagers.