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In a controversial move, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the majority Democrats failed to legalize online sports gambling for the state’s upcoming fiscal year.
Although the state currently offers in-person sports betting at four upstate casinos, the demand by New York residents to be allowed to bet on their phones fell on deaf ears.
This surprise move comes as a massive boost to the New Jersey casinos that run the state’s legal online sports gambling service. From June 1st of 2018, New Jersey has booked just under $2 billion in sports bets, 80% of those come from mobile betting.
There are two primary reasons why Gov. Cuomo has failed to put his support behind an online sports betting measure.
The first is that Gov. Cuomo doesn’t believe that the small revenue brought in by online sports betting is worth the headache to the state.
As the Governor told Albany’s WAMC radio, “Sports betting, first of all, does not make you that much money. (New Jersey) raised something like $13 million — $13 million is a rounding error in our state [budget]. I am not a fan… [of when] you can bet anytime from your cell phone.”
The other reason that Gov. Cuomo has been resistant is that he claims he does not want to go around the backs of voters. Lawyers for the Cuomo have continued to contend that online sports betting must be introduced as a referendum to the residents of New York.
Critics have responded by saying that by taking the measure to a vote, Gov. Cuomo assures that he won’t have to deal with online sports betting for close to two years after the legislation passed.
Other lawmakers have said that Gov. Cuomo’s underwhelming revenue estimates are greatly exaggerated.
One legislator who is furious at Gov. Cuomo’s decision is Sen. Joe Addabbo, a Democrat from Queens, who chairs the racing, wagering and gaming committee. “We’re sitting on the sidelines and letting our money go out of state,” Addabbo said.
Sen. Addabbo believes that legalizing online sports betting will bring in close to $90 million in revenue in the first year, with $30 million coming from taxes and over $60 million in licensing fees from the four casinos.
By New York delaying the measure once again, New Jersey casinos will continue to see customers travel from New York City and other areas to place their sports bets.
For mobile bettors, all anyone has to do is be inside the New Jersey state line to place a wager. New York residents are known to drive to border towns in the Garden State to bet on games.
“The vast majority of our bets in New Jersey are mobile,” said James Chisholm, a DraftKings spokesman told the New York Post.
Without Gov. Cuomo’s endorsement, New Jersey casinos have flourished.
In February of 2019, the state’s casinos brought in $241.2 million in revenue. That figure was a 25% increase in the money bet during February of 2018.
Perhaps boosting Cuomo’s argument is the fact that out of that $241.2 million in revenue, New Jersey’s government only saw about $1.6 million in taxes.
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