The first sports betting bill filed ahead of the 2019 session in New York includes a payout to the professional leagues, allows for mobile sports betting throughout the state, and mandates that state-licensed sportsbooks purchase of “official league data” from the leagues and/or their third-party partners.
The bill, S 17, was filed by Senator Joseph Addabbo (D-District 15) in mid-December and immediately referred to the Senate Racing, Gaming And Wagering Committee, of which Addabbo is the incoming chairman.
In 2018, outgoing committee chairman John Bonacic (R-District 42) tried to push through the sports betting bill that included a payout to the professional leagues along the lines of the “integrity fee” they have asked for, but the bill stalled in committee. At the time, Bonacic’s Chief of Staff Andrew Winchell said of the now-retired senator, “[he’s] hopeful that another member will pick up the torch on sports betting in January.”
S 17 Would Allow for State-Wide Mobile Sports Betting
The new legislative sessions begins on Thursday, Jan. 3, but Addabbo grabbed the torch sooner.
Addabbo’s bill, which resembles Bonacic’s S7900, allows for sports wagering at four upstate casinos, comporting with an existing 2013 state law. However the New York State Gaming Commission, which will regulate sports betting, has not yet rolled any rules and regulations for those upstate casinos.
Addabbo’s bill goes on to update the existing law and massages it to legalize sports betting at other gaming venues in the state. As the legislature sorts through the issues, regulations could be adopted through the state budget, according to an Albany Times-Union story.
“I do think sports betting will be done in the budget,” Addabbo said in the story.
Through much of 2018, it appeared that New York would need to amend its state constitution in order to legalize sports betting — and it may yet still do so — but this bill focuses on four existing casinos and internet/mobile sports betting. The casinos in question — del Lago in Seneca County, Tioga Downs in Tioga County, Resorts World Catskills in Sullivan County and Rivers in Schenectady County — are all located hours from New York City, but key to Addabbo’s bill is internet/mobile sports betting.
S 17 would allow bettors to sign up for online sports betting “in person at a casino, or an affiliate of a casino, or through internet websites accessed via a mobile device or computer or mobile device applications.”
Allowing online wagering would quickly level the mobile sports playing field vis-a-vis neighboring New Jersey, which has allowed mobile sports betting in state since early this summer. Some Pennsylvania sportsbooks will follow suit in the next few months.
New York lawmakers and operators have been trying to find a quick way to keep sports betting revenue in New York, rather than letting it slip through tunnels and over bridges to its southern neighbor.
In advance of New York legalizing sports betting, two of the four upstate casinos signed deals with mobile operators. In June, Tioga Downs signed a deal with Paddy Power Betfair/FanDuel Sportsbook, which already runs the mobile sportsbook for the Meadowlands, and in July, the del Lago announced a partnership with DraftKings, which will run the casino’s brick-and-mortar and mobile sportsbooks.
Also of note, should this bill pass as-is, it would be the first in the nation with a payout to the professional sports leagues, which have been lobbying for a fee since January 2018. Addabbo’s bill would grant a fee of .20 percent of handle. This is significantly less than the 1 percent the pro leagues began lobbying for, but ultimately backed down from. Nonetheless, it is still a significant cut of about 4-5 percent of a typical sportsbook’s gross revenue for the benefit of pro sports leagues. There is apparently some limitation on the use of those funds, indicating they ought to be spent for “integrity” purposes:
WITHIN THIRTY DAYS OF SUBMITTING ITS CLAIM FOR DISBURSEMENT, THE REGISTERED SPORTS GOVERNING BODY SHALL MEET WITH THE COMMISSION TO PROVIDE THE COMMISSION WITH EVIDENCE OF POLICIES, PROCEDURES AND TRAINING PROGRAMS IT HAS IMPLEMENTED TO PROTECT THE INTEGRITY OF ITS SPORTS EVENTS.
NY Sports Betting Tax Rate Would Be 8.5%
The bill sets the tax rate on operator gross revenue at 8.5 percent, which is in line with states that legalized in 2018 and lower than the 10 percent tax that was floated in Albany in early 2018. Five percent of the state’s revenue will be earmarked for problem gambling efforts. The bill also mandates that sportsbooks purchase “official league data,” and allows the professional leagues to request that certain events be excluded from sports betting.
The bill addresses the cost of league data, stating that it should be offered at “commercially reasonable terms,” and allowing for the gaming commission to price shop data in other states.
Finally, Addabbo’s bill prohibits betting on any collegiate event that takes place in New York or involves a New York college team. In essence, even when Syracuse played in the Camping World Bowl last Friday, bettors in New York would not have been able to bet on it. In an odd twist, a New York bettor could go over the New Jersey border and bet on Syracuse, just a New Jersey bettor could drive over the New York border to bet on a Seton Hall basketball game, which is prohibited in New Jersey.
The text of the bill may require some additional updating, as it does include the phrase “until such time as there has been a change in federal law authorizing such. …” The Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May, making sports betting a state’s rights issue.