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No Mobile Sports Betting in New York

There was hope by some New York state lawmakers that mobile sports betting would be legalized at some point this year, but those hopes came to an end on Wednesday. Governor Andrew Cuomo did not include mobile sports betting as part of his 2021 proposed budget, basically ending the debate until next year.

Cuomo has been opposed to legalizing mobile betting since it was first introduced, but some key lawmakers were hoping to persuade him to change his mind over the last few weeks.

Governor Cuomo first introduced his proposed budget back in January, and mobile sports betting was not included. He did leave the door open for lawmakers to come up with new bills to present to him, and that has happened over the past few weeks.

The main reason that Cuomo was against legalizing mobile betting is that he believes a new amendment would need to be made to the state constitution.

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The state of New York banned mobile sports wagering in 2018, and that law still stands to this day. Cuomo said that a new law would not replace that old stance on mobile sports betting and that lawmakers would have to convince the voters to make an amendment.

This has happened in other states throughout the country as well, but Cuomo didn’t see this as a possibility in New York.

Keeping It In-State

New York ultimately launched sports betting to keep some revenue in the state. Bettors were heading into New Jersey to place bets on sports, and New York lawmakers were hoping to prevent that from happening.

By not legalizing mobile sports betting throughout the state, a large number of bettors will still head to New Jersey rather than travel to the Northern part of the state to place their bets.

Governor Cuomo did include an expansion of sports betting into his 2021 budget, but it’s not what the legislators were hoping for. Retail sports betting is going to be allowed to take place outside of the sports betting lounges that are currently open for business.

This will allow casinos and sportsbooks the opportunity to set up betting kiosks or betting windows on the outside of their locations. All betting must still be done on the property.

There are currently four commercial casinos in the state of New York that are authorized to take bets on sports. All four of these locations are in upstate New York, making it not ideal for all residents of the state. There are also tribal casinos authorized to take bets on sports.

The New York state budget currently included a $6 billion deficit, and lawmakers were hoping that the legalization of mobile sports betting would cut into this number significantly. Other states around the country have used the revenue brought in from sports betting as a way to eliminate debt and fund various state projects.

The sports betting industry has done well up to this point in New York, but the state is leaving plenty of money on the table by not authorizing mobile betting.

Still Possible

State lawmakers can still try to negotiate a deal with the governor, but the time is running out. Both legislative houses still need to submit their budget proposals before a final agreement is reached on April 1.

The problem is that the coronavirus is keeping lawmakers from meeting like usual, and it’s unclear if they will have time to pursue any changes.

The legislative session is not set to conclude until June 2, but that date could be extended or cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. Both houses would have to approve of a new mobile sports betting bill to get it on the Governor’s desk. At this point, neither option seems likely.

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