Interesting New York insights at U.S. gambling conference

News on 8 Aug 2018

New York politicians and gambling experts gave some interesting perspectives and insights into the legalisation of sports betting in the state at this week’s annual Saratoga Institute on Equine, Racing, and Gaming conference, including:

* The New York State Gaming Commission is preparing a limited roll-out of sports gambling regulations despite the current lack of legislation;

* There’s a good chance that the pressure of other states legalising sports betting will persuade New York lawmakers to follow suit;

* Whilst sports wagering will be allowed at New York’s four privately run full-scale casinos, it is unlikely that it will be permitted at other wagering-industry operations, such as the New York Racing Association tracks or the Saratoga Casino Hotel, or available on mobile platforms;

* There could be $500 million in gross sports wagering revenue in New York, which assumes $10 billion in annual sports gambling – but those projections could be halved if mobile sports wagering is not permitted. This could generate $41 million annually to state government;

* There is a body of official opinion that the state’s Constitution and a 2013 state law limiting where and how sports gambling can be offered, allows for sports betting without additional legislation…but the inclusion of mobile may require new law;

* The state Legislature has been debating specific sports betting legislation, which has thus far not been approved, with the Senate confident of a positive outcome, but doubts in the House;

* The state gaming commission is perceived as awaiting a green light from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to release regulations, but a commission spokesman said the regulator is still reviewing the relevant state law and engaging with stakeholders;

* Current draft proposals include consideration of an “integrity fee” in response to demands by the national sports leagues.

Interesting comments

Interesting comments on the issues came from New York Senator John Bonacic, a staunch supporter of legalisation, who observed:

“When the Gaming Commission comes out with regulations, I really think you’re not going to see a heck of a lot of revenues from sports betting because it will force people to go to the lounge of the four casinos.”

He added that there was little likelihood of mobile wagering being approved, but estimated that if it was, there could be $500 million in gross sports wagering revenue in New York, assuming $10 billion in annual sports gambling.

Seth Young, Foxwoods Resort Casino’s online gaming executive director agreed, asserting that the projections could be cut in half if the state doesn’t have a mobile option. If there is a full roll out, he anticipated New York would initially see $340 million in gross sports wagering revenue and $526 million by the fifth year of operation.

Acting Gaming Commissioner Ron Ochrym said there was a body of opinion that felt that New York’s Constitution and a 2013 state law limit on where and how sports gambling can be offered obviated the need for  additional legislation. However, the question of mobile wagering may require new law.

Senator Bonacic said that the state Legislature has been debating legislative proposals on the issue, so far without a successful conclusion, and that he was confident the Senate would approve a legalisation bill. However, his colleague in the state House, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, explained that the bill didn’t come up for a vote in his chamber because there weren’t 76 Democrats in favour of it.

“I had over 100 votes for sports gambling,” Pretlow revealed. “I had 65 hard yeses from the Democrats. I had 40 hard yeses from the Republicans.”

Sen. Bonacic opined that state governor Andrew Cuomo was “uninterested” in legalisation in an election year, but said he thought the governor could be persuaded to support legalisation once political campaigning has subsided.

“I think Cuomo will try to be a hero and do it when he sees what the other states are doing,” Bonacic said. “He’s beyond the election.”

Peter Moschetti, one of New York’s gaming commissioners, revealed that “all” components of a state senate bill introduced this year are under consideration…including a demand from the sports leagues for a cut of the action in the form of an integrity fee. Other states have rejected this.

Bonacic confirmed that his Senate proposal includes a 0.20 percent fee paid by casino operators to major sports leagues. Casino operators have so far resisted this demand.

Dan Spillane, senior vice president of the National Basketball Association, said pro basketball, the Professional Golf Association and Major League Baseball each want a quarter of a percentage point integrity fee, which would generate around $7 million to the NBA from New York sports betting book operations.

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