Could Cuomo Departure Impact NY Online Sports Betting Legislation
In 2019, New York former Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that legalized sports betting for the residents of the state. At the time, the legislation only addressed retail sports betting, leaving online/mobile sports betting for another day.
The problem with the retail sports betting legislation is it left far too many New York sports bettors without access to convenient retail betting sites. In fact, retail spots are only available in four upstate casinos, which doesn’t help New York City-based bettors. The response has left hundreds of thousands of New York sports bettors seeking sports betting refuge in states like New Jersey. Experts suggest that 205 of all betting handle in New Jersey is coming from New Yorkers.
The only answer to this issue has been the passing of online/mobile sports betting legislation, something Governor Cuomo originally opposed.
Online Sports Betting Passes in New York
In April of this year, Governor Cuomo and the state legislature got tired of watching tax revenue flow to other states. Having heard the call, they finally passed online/mobile sports betting legislation. However, it wasn’t a clean decision. There was a dispute between the Governor and the Senate. The Governor favored offering exclusive operator rights to one bookmaker while the Senate preferred the multi-operator approach.
With the strength to use his pen, Governor Cuomo threw down the Gauntlet by stating they would have to choose the exclusive approach. He also tied any legislation he would sign to the budget negotiations. Since April, the state legislature has been working diligently to make it happen and get regulations in place.
Clearly, New Yorkers would love to have access to online/mobile sports betting by the end of this year. That would open up the opportunity for New York sports bettors to start wagering on NBA and NCAA basketball with the Super Bowl coming in February of 2022. With negotiations underway to pin down an exclusive operator, this looked like a reasonable target.
Amid numerous allegations of sexual impropriety, Governor Cuomo was put under intense pressure to resign as Governor. When it became clear his effectiveness in the office was wavering, he finally announced his resignation on August 10, 2021, effective August 24, 2021.
For the sports betting community, the announcement really muddled the online/mobile sports betting picture moving forward. It will now fall under the direction of Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul as she assumes the role of Governor.
According to insiders, it doesn’t appear the new Governor has any intentions of having the legislature make changes to the new law. Regarding the current state of sports betting affairs, this is what Senator Joseph A. Addabbo (D-15) said to ESNY:
“I look forward, with an improved sense of optimism, that we can better expand gaming in New York. That, in my opinion, includes horse racing in our state. I think we can have a more successful, or at least a more cooperative approach, with Governor Hochul. That is my expectation as of today.”
Where Things Stand
Assuming everything stays on schedule, the licensing process is set to begin in early September. According to sources, six of America’s top online bookmakers are ready to make presentations to city officials. The goal is to issue a sports betting license to at least one operator by December 6th. If that sounds tentative, there is a reason for it.
Cuomo always left the door open to shift gears and go with the multi-operator approach. That door is still open under the leadership of Governor Hochul. What the state is most interested in is getting a nice slice of the pie. If multiple bookmakers can bring that to the table, either approach might well work in New York.
What New York sports bettors want is to start having access to sports betting mobile apps sooner rather than later. If city officials can get the licensing approved by December 6th, sports betting in 2021 would be a possibility.
With that said, things happen in New York. The far more likely scenario is that mobile sports betting platforms will open sometime in early January 2022. That would put the BCS Championship game and the NFL playoffs in play for New York sports bettors.