New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a $178 billion state budget proposal on Tuesday but left out a push to expand sports betting, a provision many legislators were hoping would help reduce the anticipated deficit.
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The budget does propose a reduction in Medicaid costs and the legalization of marijuana, but sports betting somehow failed to get the approval of Gov. Cuomo and his administration. With estimates circling around $30 million per month in tax revenue, legislators were hoping to take a bite out of the $6 billion dollar shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year.
Last year, the New York State Senate passed a bill that would legalize online sports betting but that measure never received consideration in the House. Sports betting is currently legal at four Upstate New York casinos and in betting lounges run by Oneida, Seneca and Akwesasne Mohawk nations.
Although the budget does not include provisions for sports betting, co-sponsor of last year’s bill, State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. isn’t ready to declare the legislation dead and believes that Gov. Cuomo could include it in the final plan.
“The Executive Budget and state’s need for revenue emphasizes the importance of implementing mobile sports betting in New York and not to miss an opportunity to raise much-needed revenue to assist in addressing the expanding $6 billion budget deficit, to increase educational funding, to protect vital programs, to curtail the current illegal sports betting in our state, and to significantly enhance the prospect of creating jobs,” Addabbo said.’
Addabbo Jr. told silive.com that he recently sat down with Gov. Cuomo’s legal counsel and they did not tell him sports betting is completely off the table for legalization this year. The Governor has until March 31st to set the budget, giving sports betting-supporting lawmakers just over two months to change his mind.
For Gov. Cuomo, part of his reasoning for pushing aside sports betting expansion is the potential issue of whether the state constitution would permit legalization through the legislature.
If it is determined by legal counsel that sports betting would need a constitutional amendment before being legalized, then the process could take a few years as studies are conducted and then ultimately a vote of New York citizens.
Keeping the status quo with just the upstate and Tribal casinos running sports betting realizes about 5% of New York’s complete revenue potential according to Chris Grove of Eilers & Krejcik Gaming.
“It is frustrating to know we will have to make these tough (budget) decisions when there is money out there just waiting for us to capture, but we refuse to take advantage of it,” Addabbo said earlier this month. “Mobile sports betting is benefitting New Jersey — with approximately 25% of the state’s mobile wagering business coming from New York residents — and it could provide the same positive results for New York.”
Addabbo has proposed giving 80% of the taxable winnings to the state’s education fund, a sum, if estimates hold true, that could reach deep into the nine-figure mark.
As New York continues to play political hot potato with the sports betting issue, New Jersey reaps the benefits as the state just announced that casinos handled over $4 billion total in bets and the casinos won over $3.29 billion on all gambling activities.
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