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by Danny Maiorca

Still no mobile betting in the Empire State

Lawmakers in New York have again been left frustrated in their attempts to legalize mobile sports betting.

According to Senator Joseph Abbaddo Jr., his team of negotiators were met with a firm “no” when proposing new measures. In addition to the regulation of digital wagering, legislators wanted to speed up the licensing process for three casinos in the state.

New York’s current budget crisis is the largest since 2010, when the deficit stood at $10 billion. Its crisis is partly fueled by the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, which could cut New York state revenue to by up to $15 billion. Abbaddo Jr. has argued that financial chops in other areas made the decision not to further liberate iGaming in the state even more bizarre. His thoughts were as follows.

“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 healthcare. Unbelievable. Totally irresponsible.”

New York’s loss is New Jersey’s gain

On the other side of the Hudson River, sports betting in New Jersey – which is allowed both on and offline – is flourishing. And part of this is due to New Yorkers heading over there to wager.

According to “conservative estimates” from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, players from the Empire State bet around $837 million in New Jersey last year. That led to $57 million in revenue, meaning that New York missed out on approximately $6 million’s worth of earnings from tax.

Based on these figures, it’s been reported that New York residents could contribute $105 million in sports betting revenue and $11 million in tax revenue by 2022. That would be from $1.56 billion in bets being placed.

Meanwhile, New York’s four land-based sportsbooks endured a torrid February – in which they reported combined losses of $179,593. In January, operators brought in $1.9 million from legal sports betting. These statistics are from the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC), which does not collect sports betting handle figures.

What’s next for mobile betting in New York?

It’s probable that even without the extraordinary coronavirus situation, which has forced New York City into lockdown, mobile betting wouldn’t have made the state budget. Abbaddo Jr. has indicated that Assembly Speaker Carl Heastle, in addition to Cuomo, does not want mobile gaming introduced here.

Normally, a budget proposal in New York is revealed in mid-March. After two weeks of negotiations, the intention is for the finalized version to be ready by April 1st.

The original plan for Abbaddo Jr. and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow was to include both mobile sports betting and the expedited casino proposals in their one-house budgets. But because of the spread of Covid-19, one-house suggestions have been dropped and negotiations with the governor have started early. They aim to complete the budget before the end of this week.

Arguing that “the need for current and future revenue is evident”, the senator has signaled his intention to keep supporting legalized sports betting until the final budget is presented.

Abbaddo Jr. has also said that “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.”

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