Another New York Gambling Expansion Might Be Coming Soon

Written By Derek Helling on December 6, 2021

For New York State Senator Joseph Addabbo, the third time might prove the charm. As the year comes to a close, he’s once again pushing for New York gambling expansion that would among other things let off-track betting sites and sports stadiums take part in legal sports betting on a deeper level.

Addabbo has been one of the most vocal proponents of gambling expansion on many levels over the past few years. With part of his desires already realized, he’s now going for the gusto.

Addabbo looking for more New York gambling expansion

For most New Yorkers, there are three pertinent parts to Addabbo’s most recent bill, S7536. Two of those facets pertain to sports betting directly. One of those could be a bigger deal for sports fans in NY.

If it becomes law in its current form, the bill would allow qualifying sporting venues in the state to host betting lounges with kiosks for wagering inside them. Among the venues that would qualify are places like:

  • Barclays Center
  • Madison Square Garden
  • Yankee Stadium

Partnerships that could make these spaces a reality already exist to some extent. The New York Knicks have existing partnerships with both BetMGM and Caesars, for example. The Brooklyn Nets and New York Liberty count FanDuel among their sponsors as well.

That isn’t all Addabbo’s bill would do as far as sports betting goes, however. OTBs and VLT rooms in the state could also add sports betting kiosks. Addabbo spoke about his grand design for sports betting in New York.

“Our initial vision that (former) Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo didn’t quite care for was rolling out, over two or three years, racetracks, OTBs, stadiums, arenas, and kiosks,” Addabbo stated. “I still want to do that. And hopefully, I can get to work with Gov. [Kathy] Hochul and see that we can expand mobile sports betting to what it really should be in our state.”

2022 could see culmination of Addabbo’s dreams

For Addabbo, it’s probably so close now that he can taste it. This represents the third consecutive year that he has attempted to bring gambling expansion along these lines to bear in NY.

In 2019, he pushed a bill with many of the same elements but a shortened legislative session plus resistance from Cuomo lead to its defeat. Last year, gambling expansion took a backseat to COVID-19 pandemic issues and Cuomo remained obstinate.

This year, Cuomo got his way with mobile sports betting, taking a form that was in many ways different from Addabbo’s course. In his bills, online wagering would have run through the state’s brick-and-mortar gambling facilities instead of being administered by the state.

That new law also doesn’t allow for an expansion of wagering on horse races that Addabbo would like to see either. While giving racetracks in the state the option to offer sports betting is one pathway to improving their viability, Addabbo has something bigger up his sleeve.

Fixed-odds horse racing could be coming to NY

In a way, Addabbo simply wants to give all licensed gambling operators in NY the option to offer it all. In his bill, New York would become just the second state in which racebooks and sportsbooks can offer fixed odds on horse races. Currently, New Jersey is the only place where such markets are expressly legal. In all other states where betting on horse racing is either effectively or expressly legal, only pari-mutuel wagering is allowed.

Despite its legality in NJ, few of the sportsbook brands offer such markets there. BetMGM, for example, has a separate product available under its banner instead of integrating horse racing wagers into its sportsbook.

The bigger play for racetracks might be housing betting kiosks, making them more of a destination for gamblers. New York is home to four well-known tracks including Belmont and Saratoga Downs.

Currently, it’s uncertain how much support Addabbo’s bill has in either chamber of the NY legislature or with Gov. Hochul. If it fails to progress yet this year, 2022 might present a better opportunity. That would leave just one item on Addabbo’s probable wish list.

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What about downstate casinos?

The other thing that Addabbo has pushed for through the years is an accelerated timeline on downstate commercial casinos. Currently, the earliest the state could award any licenses is 2023.

That would likely mean a casino somewhere in the New York City metro, for example, probably wouldn’t open its doors until 2025. Addabbo wants to see a legislative fix to move up the licensing window.

That isn’t part of this bill right now. If he gets confident, perhaps an amendment might add such a provision. It’s possible that some downstate casinos could be open quicker, as current Class II facilities like Empire City Casino in Yonkers might get Class III licenses and a renovation wouldn’t take as long as new construction.

If Addabbo gets his way, more New York gambling expansion is on its way. To whatever extent he is successful, gaming in NY could look very different starting next year.

Photo by Dennis W Donohue / Shutterstock
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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