For New York Sports Bettors, Another Football Season Of Trips To New Jersey Likely

Hope for 2019 is dwindling after New York's annual budget was finalized without any movement toward mobile sports betting legalization.
george washington bridge new york new jersey

It’s often a bad bet to go against inertia, and that was the case again this weekend as a New York State annual budget of $176 billion was finalized without any movement toward legalization of mobile sports betting. That should leave neighboring New Jersey sitting pretty not only for this summer, but possibly for another entire football season.

“We’re sitting on the sidelines and letting our money go out of state,” state Sen. Joe Addabbo, a Democrat from Queens who chairs on the Senate racing, wagering, and gaming committee, told reporters.

Indeed, New Jersey sports betting officials say anywhere from 10-25% of their action is generated from Empire State bettors whose options include bicycling halfway across the George Washington Bridge to establish a New Jersey “geolocation,” placing their legal bets with a New Jersey-endorsed app, and pedaling back home.

What’s the holdup in NY?

The New York sports betting issue has been met with the dual roadblock of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Gaming Commission, where officials agree with Cuomo that there can be no legal internet wagering on sports before a grueling three-year process of approval is achieved.

Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow have led the charge on the mobile betting, but they appear to have made no traction on the argument that New York State law is such that a Constitutional amendment to allow it is unnecessary.

The legal argument seems sound enough, but that’s probably moot unless Cuomo has a change of heart.

In theory, the state Legislature could still take action on a sports betting bill in June — but even passage of a bill would leave it in the crosshairs of a Cuomo veto. While the U.S. Supreme Court last May struck down a 26-year-old federal law that granted Nevada a virtual national monopoly on legal sports betting, efforts by Pretlow and others to race a bill through Albany for mobile betting went nowhere.

A now-retired New York state senator last summer blamed Cuomo for the clock running out on last year’s effort, saying that Cuomo told him, “We’re too busy, let’s wait ’til next year.”

Land-based betting coming upstate

Four upstate New York casinos already are cleared for sports betting thanks to the law that created such an opportunity in 2013. But nearly a year after the Supreme Court ruling, none of the casinos has yet had an opportunity to offer its first bet as the gaming commission has dawdled on finalizing regulations.

Those casinos — and native American facilities that have equal rights on gamblings offerings — could be offering sports bets come football season. But as far as mobile goes, it seems that only an unexpected 180 by Cuomo would lead to the same result.

And if diehard supporters of legal mobile sports betting in New York want to take consolation in a newly legal toke of marijuana — well, that didn’t get legalized, either, in spite of previous promises by Cuomo that went up in smoke.

Photo by Songquan Deng /


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