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Addabbo Renews Call for Sports Betting, Says it Can Fill $2.3B Gap in State Budget

Senator Addabbo is calling for the state to legalize sports betting. (Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar)

Feb. 21, 2019 By Laura Hanrahan

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo is once again calling for the legalization of sports betting in the state, this time as a means to fill in the unexpected $2.3 billion shortfall recently announced in New York’s 2020 budget. 

According to Addabbo, the tax revenue generated from sports betting would provide additional income for the annual state budget and bolster economic activity in the long term. The $2.3 million gap in the fiscal year 2020 budget, he said, comes in addition to a $3 billion deficit the state was already facing going into next year.

“Now more than ever it makes sense to legalize sports betting to help fund essential programs by bringing in additional revenue,” Addabbo said. “It offers great potential for increasing revenue without placing the burden on taxpayers, it creates new jobs, and adds crucial funding support for education in New York.”

Sports betting has already proven profitable for neighboring states, Addabbo said, citing New Jersey having brought in $2.45 million in tax revenue in November alone as one example.

New York first passed legislation in 2013 to allow sports betting at the state’s four commercial casinos upstate. But a nationwide ban on sports betting at the time, however, prevented the legislation from being enacted upon.

While the ban was overturned in May of last year, the New York State Gaming Commission has yet to update its rules to allow for sports betting.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who initially did not push for state-wide legalization following the ban’s lift, touched on sports betting in his January State of the State address and called for its legalization.

“Let’s authorize sports betting in the upstate casinos,” Cuomo said. “It’s here, it’s a reality, and it will help generate activity in those casinos.”

The New York State Gaming Commission has begun drafting regulations for a possible May start date, according to reports. The new rules would allow for sports betting at the Del Lago, Tioga Downs, Resorts World Catskills and Rivers casinos.

Once the new regulations are put in place, only in-person betting would be allowed, with mobile and online betting requiring new legislation to be written. Late last year, in anticipation of such legislation eventually being enacted, Resorts World Catskills began raising capital from British sports betting giant Bet365. In exchange for 50 percent of the profits from sports betting, the company will acquire up to $50 million in shares from Resort World’s parent company Empire Resorts Inc. in a 20-year contract.

In May of last year, Addabbo spoke to the potential for state sanctioned sports gambling to eliminate illegal betting.

“People enjoy it as entertainment, but there is an illegal element to it,” Addabbo told the TimesLedger. “We had a hearing earlier this year through the gaming committee and a gentleman from Nevada gave testimony and said ‘we’ve practically eliminated illegal gaming and betting.’”

Addabbo is hopeful about legalization and says he believes that sports betting revenue will soon become a part of the state budget calculations.

“There are many economic advantages for the state in legalizing sports wagering including tax revenue from betting, sales tax revenue, job creation, additional income and increased payroll,” Addabbo said. “I am confident that by working together, we can develop and enact a comprehensive plan to legalize sports betting in New York.”

The state legislature will vote on the next year’s budget before the deadline of April 1.

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