A New Deal for Mobile Betting in N.Y.?

Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow now say they want to limit remote sports betting to the commercial and tribal casinos upstate. They hope the concession will bring Governor Andrew Cuomo (l.) to the table and clear away the hurdle of a constitutional amendment.

The two New York lawmakers leading the charge for mobile sports betting now want to restrict phone and internet betting to the four upstate commercial casinos and the state’s tribal casinos, reining in their ambitions for the market in an attempt to break an impasse with Gov. Andrew Cuomo over legalization.

The new limits are among a series of major alterations to legislation offered by Queens Democrat Joseph Addabbo Jr. in the Senate and Westchester Democrat J. Gary Pretlow in the Assembly as the four commercial casinos Tioga Downs Casino and Resort in the Southern Tier, Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady, del Lago Resort & Casino in the Finger Lakes and Resorts World Catskills in Sullivan County gear up to implement regulations allowing them to offer in-person-only betting.

As amended, the bills would ban both remote and in-person betting from Resorts World Casino in New York City and from off-track betting outlets and professional sports stadiums statewide.

The new versions further clarify mobile sports betting by limiting it to the commercial casinos, where sports betting is already grandfathered in under their 2013 enabling law, and the casinos owned by the Oneida, Seneca and Mohawk Indian nations.

The lawmakers hope they restrictions will move Cuomo off his insistence that mobile betting requires an amendment to the state Constitution, which means approval in a statewide referendum and votes from consecutive sessions of the Legislation, a process that would push legalization out by at least two years and probably longer.

Pretlow and Addabbo believe mobile betting is critical to New York’s competitive position vis a vis neighboring New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and both hotly disagree with the governor over the need for a constitutional amendment, hence the new restrictions, Pretlow said, which make the bills “cleaner”.

“We wanted to get over the first hurdle, that first hurdle being mobile. Once we get over that, the rest can be easier,” he said.

“I had hoped the newly enacted New York state budget would have included authorization for mobile sports betting, but (an) agreement could not be reached by the April 1 deadline,” Addabbo said. “I continue to believe online wagering will create new jobs for state residents and provide a significant source of state revenue to fund education and other vital programs.”

The bills retain a controversial provision requiring operators to make royalty payments to sports leagues, but they now include licensing fees, a tiered structure for tax rates and new provisions for the protection of athletes and game officials and to address problem gambling.

The initial license fee would be set at $12 million with mobile betting revenue subject to a 12 percent tax, separate from the 8.5 percent assessed on land-based revenue.

In addition to the so-called “integrity fee” of 0.20 percent of all wagers a royalty for all intents and purposes the amendments require sports governing bodies to implement procedures to protect athletes, players, umpires, referees, club officials and personnel, and members of their families, from physical attacks, verbal threats or other forms of harassment.

The new problem gambling protections include a freeze on player accounts when lifetime deposits exceed $2,500 until the player acknowledges receiving information on problem gambling resources. Also, the New York Gaming Commission would be charged with preparing an annual report on the impact of mobile sports wagering on problem gamblers.