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New York legislators and Gov. Andrew Cuomo continue to be at odds over the language of a mobile sports betting amendment, shelving the measure for the upcoming fiscal year.
With the state facing a $6 billion dollar budget deficit plus the additional financial strain of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, New York lawmakers were hoping that Gov. Cuomo and his administration would lessen their objections over sports betting.
The bill’s co-sponsor and one of the biggest cheerleaders of sports betting in the New York State Senate, Joseph Addabbo Jr., told Legal Sports Report that the lack of agreement between the two sides was disappointing.
“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 health care,” Addabbo said. “Unbelievable. Totally irresponsible.”
New York online sports betting suffered, in part, due to an accelerated legislative schedule. Normally, both the Assembly and Senate in the state would have a proposal ready for the middle of March, but due to the coronavirus outbreak, both legislative bodies were forced to narrow their budget requests.
Instead of proposals, the two chambers began negotiations directly with the governor’s office but with continued opposition in the Assembly and Gov. Cuomo’s reservations, the hopes for mobile sports betting fell short.
With the coronavirus hitting New York City particularly hard, the legislature’s attention is understandably on building and supporting response teams until the cases peak and first responders and the healthcare system begin to recover.
Sen. Addabbo hopes for a “hail mary” that would include sports betting in Cuomo’s final budget but also understands that it may be 2021 or beyond before the topic comes up again for negotiation.
Before the two parties failed to reach an agreement, Gov. Cuomo and the New York Legislature were urged to find a path to mobile betting by a local city council on the behalf of two casinos.
MGM’s Empire City in Yonkers and Resorts World in Queens are two downstate casinos that could potentially benefit from a sports betting bill. The Yonkers City Council passed a resolution in the days leading up to Gov. Cuomo’s decision hoping to influence the two sides to find a middle ground.
The council’s resolution stated that legalizing mobile betting could create an annual tax revenue base of roughly $90 million and create thousands of jobs for the surrounding areas near the casinos.
Yonkers Council Minority Leader Mike Breen expressed a commonly heard frustration around the New York legislature about the money leaving the state for neighboring New Jersey and their flourishing betting market.
“It’s driving over the bridge, millions of dollars,” Breen said. “That money could have been bet at the MGM casino with some money coming back to the city of Yonkers. It’s not a big thing that this can’t happen. It’s happening at other casinos upstate…We’re asking that people can come to the MGM Casino and place a bet on sports rather than driving over the bridge and spending that money in New Jersey.”
All casinos in New York are currently closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
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