Proposed sports wagering at Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, off-track betting outlets, and professional sports stadiums has been eliminated from the latest version of New York’s proposed enabling legislation.
Late Thursday, Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (15th District), a Queens Democrat, and Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow (89th District), a Westchester County Democrat, the respective chairmen for their legislative bodies’ racing and gaming committees, disclosed a series of major alterations to the Senate and Assembly’s sports betting bills — the latest detour on the long and winding road to sports wagering in the Empire State.
The primary change excises the Aqueduct casino, OTBs, and others from being able to operate as “affiliates” of sports betting outlets by banning them from offering in-person sports wagering kiosks at their facilities or letting customers sign up on mobile sports gambling platforms.
An additional change clarifies mobile sports betting by limiting the operation of it to the existing entities that run full-blown casinos in New York State. The revised legislation also specifically permits the three Indian-run casino operations in the state and their various casinos to participate in mobile sports gambling.
Pass legislation now, clean it up later
Pretlow says the two houses agreed to make the sports betting bill “cleaner” by removing the so-called “affiliates” provisions that would allow mobile sports betting at places like Aqueduct’s casino and the OTBs.
Pretlow, an ardent supporter of Las Vegas-style sports betting, especially the mobile aspect, said, “We wanted to get over the first hurdle, that first hurdle being mobile. Once we get over that, the rest can be easier.”
The pragmatic long-time legislator told Sports Handle in November that he believes mobile wagering is essential to compete with neighboring New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Pretlow now says changes could be made later to permit other entities to participate in mobile sports betting.
Contention remains in the state where New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) believes a simple change in law does not specifically permit mobile sports wagering statewide. His administration’s position is that a constitutional revision, including a statewide referendum, is needed for such kinds of betting. That effort could take several years.
However, Pretlow explained in a wide-ranging interview last fall he believes such an amendment for widespread mobile betting is not needed as long as the computer technology that manages it is physically located in one of the state’s full-blown, Las Vegas-style casinos.
According to Pretlow, there is no difference between what they are proposing with sports betting and what the state already does with advance deposit for racetracks.
Controversial royalty payments remain
In 2013, the State Legislature authorized four commercial casinos that could offer sports betting if a federal ban was ever eliminated. Those four casinos are all now operational. They are Tioga Downs, Resorts World Catskills, Rivers Casino in Schenectady, and del Lago Resorts & Casino in Seneca County.
The Cuomo administration earlier this year released proposed rules to permit in-person sports wagering at those casinos. All four of these commercial casinos have expressed a strong desire to offer sports wagering, including a mobile element.
The commercial and tribal casinos have been gradually aligning themselves with major U.S. sports betting operations to be poised to offer sports wagering as soon as possible. For example, the Oneida Indian Nation in central upstate New York announced in January it has a deal with Caesars Entertainment to operate its sportsbook at its three gambling locations in the region. Various other deals are also in place.
The revised legislative proposal still retains the previous version’s language that allows royalty payments to sports leagues. It now adds language that such payments specify policies on the books pertaining to protections for players, referees, and others.