New York Legislators Want Online Betting to Help Solve Deficit

After watching New Jersey handle over $837 million in wagers from New York citizens over their first full year of sports betting, legislators in the Empire State have become increasingly desperate to approve online betting to take a chunk out of their impending deficit.

The $837 million mark is roughly one-fifth of the total bet in New Jersey in 2019, but shows the potential of a sports betting market in New York. The number on its surface is much lower than the prospective market in the entire state as bettors have to be inside New Jersey to place a wager on their phones.

With New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo putting together his fiscal budget for the upcoming year, lawmakers have looked to sports betting as a way to save public programs as the current administration faces a $6 billion deficit.

Why Does Gov. Cuomo Resist Sports Betting?

Gov. Cuomo has resisted the inclusion of sports betting in his budget because he does not believe the estimates and also has not been a proponent of legalized wagering in the wake of the 2018 Supreme Court decision that allowed states to make the final choice on whether they can offer bookmaking.

Last month, Gov. Cuomo’s $178 billion budget made cuts to Medicaid and public education, two areas that lawmakers like state Senator Joseph Addabbo would like to save with the help of online sports betting.

Since the release of the Cuomo budget proposal, senators and representatives from New York have been seeking ways to convince the Governor to open his doors to the potential revenue that sports betting could provide the state.

“Facts and figures will hopefully tell the story that the governor needs to do this in the budget,” state Sen. Addabbo told the Wall Street Journal.

What is New York Losing By Not Legalizing Sports Betting?

Sen. Addabbo leads a group of Democrats that passed legislation last year that would have legalized betting on mobile devices but the state Assembly in New York failed to put the measure up for a vote, allowing it to die on their floor.

Even though most Assembly Democrats do not share the belief that sports betting could help save the day for the governor’s budget, a new study produced by daily fantasy sports powerhouses, DraftKings and FanDuel estimate that New York could gain as much as $166 million annually from wagering, if the state also includes online options for bettors.

Both companies have surged since the legalization of sports betting and are lobbying state Assemblymen and Senators to create sports betting legislation that would pass under Gov. Cuomo.

The study by the two bookmaking operators comes on the heels of another study by the research firm of Eilers & Krejcik that suggests that the state could make upwards of $120 million in licensing fees at the start of the operation.

Currently, New York does have limited on-site sports betting in seven upstate casinos, with three-run by Indian tribes and four others run by commercial businesses.

Regardless of the legislation that the lawmakers produce, the state will have to clear one big hurdle and that is the potential legal nightmare that comes from the belief that any betting expansion needs a constitutional amendment.

Although opinions on that matter differ, there will be no legal argument if the legislators do not produce a sports betting bill that Gov. Cuomo later signs into law.

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