You would think New York, one of the country’s most liberal states, would embrace a new progressive movement like mobile sports betting. The Empire State does a lot of talking on other progressive issues such as pushing ‘tax the rich’ initiatives, so one would think allowing gamblers to place sports bets on their phones would be a no brainer.
However, it appears there are more lucrative issues to deal with for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his legion of Democrats.
So, unfortunately, for those who live in Queens looking to place a bet, the odds of New York mobile wagering happening anytime soon are, by my estimate, 4 to 1. Or about as good as the Mets winning the division in 2020 season.
Keeping New York mobile wagering at bay
The NY state senate has been on board with mobile wagering for quite some time. Even Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, a Democrat and chairman of the NY Racing & Wagering Committee, is in favor of legislation to permit mobile wagering. Pretlow has also publicly stated that he “has the votes” on both sides of the aisle.
So what gives?
When you look closely, there has been one man, one constant, that has held mobile sports betting at bay. And it’s not the governor but rather his gatekeeper, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
Heastie told reporters in December, the only way to fix the $6 billion budget deficit is to cut spending or raise revenue.
“Unless money is going to fall from the sky, you’re always going to have to try to do things. And so when there’s a concern about having enough money, the two options always are, do you cut spending or do you raise revenue, and for us, in the Assembly, we always believe in raising revenue.”
Looking for free money?
Clearly, the money traveling across the border into New Jersey–where bettors can easily place a mobile wager on if the Mets will win more than 86 games this upcoming season–is of zero importance.
According to figures from the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement, roughly 88% of sports wagers came via mobile or online platforms. To put that in terms of money, that’s over $557 million in sports betting handle and revenue of $29.4 million in December.
To take it a step further, last year, NJ sports betting accounted for more than $4.58 billion in handle, $300 million in revenue, and over $36 million going to state taxes.
“All that revenue [going to New Jersey] some have said, as much as a quarter of NJ sports betting revenue is coming from NY State,” said David O. Klein, a gaming attorney with Klein Moynihan Turco in New York City. “We are just giving that money away. Why not take the proverbial bite of the taxpayer pie and keep it here. That’s a great way to make up the shortfall.”
When asked what is more likely, a Mets winnings season or mobile wagering becoming legal, Klein, a native New Yorker and Mets zealot, was hesitant to answer.
“It’s a toss-up. Don’t want to jinx either,” he said.