New York shutdown of nonessential businesses due to the coronavirus now means the Empire State needs money. The fact is, the COVID-19 lockdown has severely impacted the state’s financial condition.
New York State Senator Joseph Addabbo believes the state could replenish the state’s depleted budget very quickly by legalizing online sports betting. Addabbo estimates that New York could earn between $160 million to $200 million every year from mobile betting.
Right now, New York only allows retail sports betting at four upstate casinos, and those remain closed. However, the Cayuga Nation has defied the lockdown by reopening its Lakeside Entertainment Casino on Route 90 in Union Springs. The tribe has declared that they are a sovereign nation, and exempt from the governor’s mandates. The Oneida Nation plans to follow suit, reopening their casinos on June 10. However, during the initial reopening, the Oneida Nation’s sportsbooks will remain closed. The Oneida operates three large hotel/casinos in upstate New York.
Addabbo Makes His Case
“As a state, we do not have the luxury at this point of declining revenue,” Addabbo emphasized. “The fact is, we have a severe budget deficit. Even before to the coronavirus we had a deficit, and now there’s a need for revenue.”
Assemblyman Gary Pretlow had backed Addabbo in the advancement of sports betting in New York’s February fiscal budget, but that budget closed in April without any inclusion of mobile sports betting.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has, up to this point, stood firmly in the way of mobile sports betting. While Cuomo has indicated that he will allow racetracks to reopen on June 1, he hasn’t budged on mobile betting.
Addabbo wants to change the governor’s mind by the end of the year.
“In the past when the governor wanted something, we’d get it done,” Addabbo said. “I’m just hoping to work with Cuomo and his administration to convince him and his administration that this is an important issue to work on, that we should do this.”
Unfortunately, that will be a challenge, given the bad timing of the COVID-19 pandemic. While technically, the New York 2020 legislative session isn’t over, Governor Cuomo has seemed doubtful about it resuming.
New Jersey Serves New York State with Mobile Betting
To add to the Empire State’s pain, many of its residents drive to neighboring New Jersey to place mobile sports bets. The Garden State has had plenty of success since launching mobile sports betting. Last year, New Jersey residents wagered $4.5 billion, and nearly 85% of that revenue came from mobile devices.
Since New York legalized retail sports betting during the summer of 2019, the state has generated total revenue of $9,646,708. In contrast, during that same time period, New Jersey generated a massive $273,436,129 in total revenue.
If New York were to legalize mobile sports betting, operators could join the market very quickly due to its proximity to New Jersey. And New Yorkers who are accustomed to mobile sports betting in New Jersey would be able to play on the same platforms.
However, some New Yorkers feel the negatives outweigh the financial positives when it comes to mobile betting.
“I believe we all share a concern for those who have a gambling addiction,” Addabbo mused. “Right now, New Yorkers are traveling to Jersey for mobile sports betting. They’re doing that illegally. We can’t help them with their addiction because we don’t know who they are.”
There’s a need for additional revenue streams in New York. But given the COVID-19 lockdown, Governor Cuomo’s opposition as well as the poor timing of the legislative session, mobile sports betting will probably have to wait until at least 2021.