Mobile Sports Betting Bill Moving In State Senate

A bill to allow sports betting on cell phones, laptops, and other mobile devices is on the move in the New York State Senate.

On January 13, 2020, Bill S.17-D-Addabbo/A.6113-C-Pretlow was unanimously approved by the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee and referred to the Senate Finance Committee for further consideration. Pro-gambling lawmakers also intend to push for a mobile sports betting provision in this year’s state budget.

Mobile sports betting legislation passed the State Senate last June by a lopsided vote of 57-5. It is likely to pass the Senate again in 2020. However, the proposal did not receive a vote in the Assembly last year. According to CBS New York, one reason that the Assembly declined to pass the bill in 2019 was that they feared it would be vetoed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Gov. Cuomo has been a staunch supporter of the gambling industry during his tenure in office, having successfully pushed for a 2013 constitutional amendment allowing the licensure of Vegas-style casinos in upstate New York; however, he has taken a dim view of mobile sports betting. Recently, a Cuomo spokesperson asserted that the Governor “‘has consistently said he has constitutional concerns with mobile sports betting.’”

The Governor’s stated concerns about mobile sports betting are an encouraging sign. On the other hand, the $6 billion budget gap being faced by the state this year could motivate the Governor to be more aggressive about seeking new state revenue sources. Will Gov. Cuomo’s constitutional concerns continue to derail mobile sports betting? Or will budgetary concerns cause him to have a change of heart?

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms opposes mobile sports betting because it violates our state constitution, because it would allow the state to profit from a predatory enterprise, and because easy access to mobile devices could cause more New Yorkers to become addicted to gambling. Please write your lawmakers today and ask them to oppose this bill.

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