Sports Betting Online Senator Addabbo Jr: It’s embarrassing to be left behind in online sports betting developments June 21, 2019 By David Cook New York Sentator, Joseph Addabbo Jr., speaks exclusively to Gaming America following an extended Assembly session where mobile sports betting was on the table, but not passed. Can you tell me how the bill has progressed in the last week? I’d like to say it progressed very well on our side of the House. We passed the bill overwhelmingly, but the Assembly has a leader, a Speaker called Carl Heastie, who doesn’t embrace gaming on the whole and also a Governor who doesn’t embrace gaming. It therefore becomes harder to negotiate on that side to advance anything. What are the hurdles preventing sports betting from going online? The main stumbling block in their eyes is the constitutionality issue, which we resolve in two ways. One, we always said putting servers that actually accept the bets on the licensed casino floor or property solves our constitutional compliance with the language that we did back in 2013. The second point is New Jersey, our neighboring state that has statewide mobile betting for poker and everything else; they have that because their servers are in Atlantic City, that part of New Jersey where gaming is licensed. Our plan was to do exactly that, especially since the language from our constitution in New York was drafted with an eye towards New Jersey’s constitution and its gaming language. To me, there is no constitutional issue. We have had close to a dozen attorneys write legal briefs about how there is no constitutional issue. So to use that phrase as reasoning is, to me, basically a smokescreen for something you don’t want to do. Online poker has faced similar issues in getting passed in New York. Is that for the same reasons? Yeah, we didn’t even go there; we didn’t even discuss online poker. We didn’t touch it as I knew that was a non-starter. You know what you can negotiate, and I was never going to negotiate that this year. But mobile sports betting is something we could have easily grasped this year, so why have other states done it while we can’t? I know each state has its own constitutional language, but the bottom line is we could have done it. Your statement from earlier in the week puts matters into perspective. You compared New York to a car sitting on the highway just being overtaken by all these other states. Yeah, and it’s so frustrating. We look at New Jersey and the revenue being generated. Due to March Madness, they made nearly $32m just that month. On average, they make around $12m per month, and they’re up to about $100m since January this year. In New York, 80% of our gaming revenue goes to education. That’s 80% of additional funds that we can give to our schools and our children. But another key point that I think is really embarrassing for our state not to do mobile sports betting is the fact that we have an illegal business right here, right now in our state. We are sitting back and letting that illegal business thrive. You can actually regulate it and capture that revenue. We can forget about the 25% of bets going from our state to New Jersey. But to me, the government is in the business of curtailing illegal activity and re-capturing whatever revenue may be associated. We’re not doing that, and it’s embarrassing. What do you make of Governor Cuomo’s statement that $13m is a rounding error in New York? You know, when he said that my staff and I chuckled. We said that is actually a half-correct statement. What he was referring to was a true statement, $13m, but that was in one single month. That’s what he didn’t say. You give me $13m a month and over $100m a year and I’ll take it. That’s revenue we don’t have. So the Governor was basically saying we don’t want the extra revenue. What Governor says we don’t want legal revenue? That’s what he’s doing here; saying no to extra revenue, new jobs, current job protection, and educational funding. Who does that? In this online sports betting bill there are 14 points to address problematic and compulsive gaming; to the point where there is a 5% revenue stream for education and treatment. So we’re identifying the people before they become addicted and during. I am so proud of those points and the structure we put in to address this issue. The Governor is saying no to this too - money for problematic gaming - all because the Speaker for the Assembly and the Governor have an issue with gaming. I don’t get it. Looking forward, how do you see online sports betting developing in New York? Should the Assembly and the Governor not do anything, we go back to the drawing board. We’ll have another year that we’ve lost out on this revenue and all this additional funding. We’ll try to figure out if we do it again next year. Do we try to tinker with the constitutional amendment? But you have to understand, when the Speaker and the Governor say we need a constitutional amendment, that process takes three years. So when they say there is a constitutional issue, they are saying we won’t be doing mobile sports betting for another three years. That’s three years of lost revenue and three years of allowing every other state to leapfrog us. That’s why we figured out a way to make it constitutional; that was the biggest issue. There are no term limits with Governors, so he will be there as long as people choose him to be, with elections happening once every four years. So we try to work with what we have. I pick up a newspaper and read about Governor Murphy in New Jersey - he’s a cheerleader for this. He’s out there as a positive voice talking about the revenue they make and the programs they have to help seniors, veterans, children and families. He wants to overtake Nevada and get to the top. I sit back and think: "That’s New Jersey for you." But here we are in New York, where we pride ourselves on being a leading state; the one that other states look at and think: "Wow." Here’s Governor Murphy in New Jersey, just running with this. It’s embarrassing to be left behind. We’re not saying legalize online poker, or online roulette, just online sports betting. Not the Academy Awards, not the Grammys, or betting on the rain, just online sports betting. It boggles the mind, it really does.