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New York Finalizes Budget, But Excludes Mobile Sports Betting

The question of extending mobile sports betting in The Empire State has been a bone of contention of late. Following news of falling land-based revenues in February, industry commentators have speculated that gambling additions to New York State’s budget could potentially generate billions of dollars in revenue – but Governor Andrew Cuomo does not seem convinced.

It has been argued that a mobile sports betting extension could provide a welcome economic boost during what is shaping up to be a turbulent time for the state. However, for now, Cuomo’s latest budget appears to have taken the possibility of such gambling growth potential off the table.

On Wednesday, lawmakers published the state’s hotly anticipated budget. The announcements made it clear that New York State does not intend to receive revenue from mobile sports betting in the coming fiscal year (2020/21).

Missed opportunities during difficult times

Cuomo, who oversaw the budget, has been criticized for overlooking an opportunity to diversify gambling revenue streams at a time when the coronavirus outbreak is casting a shadow of economic uncertainty over New York State.

With the true extent of COVID-19’s economic impact still unknown, Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. described Cuomo’s move to exclude mobile betting from the budget as ‘irresponsible’ in an interview with Legal Sports Report.

Alongside fellow legislature gaming committee chair, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, Addabbo suggested that New York sports betting could have potentially generated $1.5 billion in revenue over the course of 2020/21, should lawmakers have considered a different approach.

Addabbo and Pretlow said they had originally intended to present these figures in the Senate and Assembly budget proposals. However, the legislature was forced to skip directly to gubernatorial negotiations, after Assembly members fell ill with COVID-19 ahead of planned meetings.

Governor speaks out to defend exclusion

Defending his decision, Cuomo raised constitutionality concerns. He said that New York citizens should not be able to indulge in the act of gambling from their cell phones.

Overlooking the impact of recent reports into sports betting, he added that, in his view, previous state revenues from gambling had left much to be desired.

NY Gaming Commission to publish crucial report 

Looking ahead, the New York State Gambling Commission has authorized a comprehensive study of the gaming market. State lawmakers in favour of extending NY sports betting are hopeful that this important research will add weight to their cause in the near future.

The five-month long study, led by Spectrum Gaming Group, was initially green-lit in December and is due to be published in first draft form early this month. However, spokespeople from Spectrum Gaming Group and NYSGC have so far failed to confirm whether the initial draft is in.

A final draft is forecast to be ready and publicly available by June 1. Meanwhile, Addabbo and others have expressed a desire to continue lobbying for mobile sports betting throughout the year.

“I won’t stop advocating for mobile sports betting,” Addabbo said.

“I’m hopeful for revenue measures subsequent to the budget.”

Sports betting not completely overlooked

Elsewhere, other commentators have been keen to point out that sports betting was not completely shunned in Cuomo’s budget – with one key hangover from original budget proposals still included as part of Wednesday’s announcements.

Specifically, it has now been confirmed that New York State will eliminate the requirement for casinos to restrict sports betting to designated lounges/areas within their properties. This means that such institutions will be afforded greater flexibility in terms of designs and floorplans.

New York’s current legislative session is due to end on June 2. Commentators are hopeful that further developments could be just over the horizon.

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