Renewed Push for New York Gambling Expansion

New York State Senator Joseph Addabbo’s quest to expand sports betting in the state continues. For the past three years, Addabbo has pushed for gambling to be expanded in the Empire State on a number of levels. Despite opposition from then-Governor Andrew Cuomo, Addabbo and other proponents of expanded sports betting have been able to make significant progress. The talks of expansion have even drawn support from some of the biggest casino operators in the US.

Addabbo and his supporters are hoping that the new governor, Governor Kathy Hochul, will be more open to working with legislators to expand sports betting in New York. The renewed optimism is fueled in part by the fact that the new governor has ties to the gaming industry. Governor Hochul’s husband, Bill Hochul, is employed by Delaware North, one of the biggest hospitality and gaming firms in the US.

State Senator Addabbo wants to keep the ball rolling. Addabbo recently introduced a bill that would allow for qualifying stadiums to host sports betting kiosks. The state legislator has also been vocal about his desire to bring fixed-odds horse racing to New York’s racetracks. Senator Addabbo is also pushing for an accelerated timeline on downstate casinos.

Senate Bill S7536

Senator Addabbo’s current bill would allow qualifying stadiums to host sports betting kiosks onsite. Currently, players need to go to a brick-and-mortar casino to place their wagers. New York legislators approved online sports betting earlier this year, but no sports betting apps are expected to be available until early next year.

Based on the current requirements, many of New York’s biggest sporting venues would qualify to host sports betting kiosks. Among those already meeting the requirements are the Barclays Center, Madison Square Garden, and Yankee Stadium. A large number of home games and other sporting events hosted at the stadiums throughout the year would offer players plenty of opportunities to win real money.

The inclusion of sports betting at live sporting events would not be out of place. Many of the professional teams in New York have already partnered with popular sportsbooks as sponsors. Both the Brooklyn Nets and their WNBA counterparts the New York Liberty have partnerships with FanDuel. Meanwhile, the New York Knicks have sponsorships with both Caesar’s and BetMGM. All three teams play at stadiums that would fit the current requirements for sports betting kiosks.

Another key part of the current bill would be the ability for off-track betting (OTB) stations and video lottery terminals (VLTs) to add sports betting. This would allow easier access to approved sportsbooks for players across the state. Also, it would allow licensed sportsbooks to utilize the already existing infrastructure of OTBs and VLTs to get up and running quickly.

This part of the bill is in direct contrast with former Governor Cuomo’s plans for sports betting in New York. Cuomo’s plan, which the current gaming laws are largely based on, involved allowing the brick-and-motor casinos to manage sportsbooks throughout the Empire State. Senator Addabbo and his supporters are hopeful that Governor Hochul will be more open to increasing access to sportsbooks for bettors.

Future Expansion at Racetracks

The proposed legislation would move sports betting closer to Senator Addabbo’s end goal. However, it does not address all of the legislator’s plans. One of the biggest areas left out of the bill is the changes Addabbo wants to make to horse racing betting. Eventually, the senator would like to see fixed-odds horse racing in New York. Currently, the only state that offers fixed-odds horse racing is New Jersey.

In other US states, horse race betting is either illegal or only offered using the pari-mutuel model. Fixed-odds racing would offer bettors the ability to know their potential payout when placing their bet as opposed to waiting until all the bets are placed. Sportsbooks may be less inclined to use fixed-odds betting as they risk losing money. With pari-mutuel bets, oddsmakers can make money off the commission they earn from the bets placed.

Sportsbooks in New Jersey have not fully embraced fixed-odds racing, despite its potential to offer a more attractive option for new bettors. The practice of fixed-odds racing was only approved this past June, so it may just need more time to develop. For New York legislators, there are other options available to attract new players to the racetrack.

The main alternative that proponents of the expansion are pushing for is the addition of sports betting kiosks at racetracks. Senator Addabbo has pushed for similar legislation in the past but failed to garner enough support. Whether it is tacked on to the current bill or not, you can be sure that Addabbo and other supporters of gaming expansion will push for horse racing to be expanded down the line.

Downstate Expansion

The other major component missing from Addabbo’s current bill is the ability to speed up expansion downstate. Currently, New York cannot award any new casino licenses until 2023. Senator Addabbo is hopeful that the moratorium on issuing licenses can be lifted. Not only would this benefit his plans for expansion, but it could also provide an avenue to help the economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

If new licenses are not distributed until 2023, then newly constructed casinos would likely not be able to open until 2025 or later. Building new casinos would also require a heavy financial investment on top of the time commitment. With many industries still feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, some investors may be unwilling to pursue this option.

An alternative to building new casinos would be reclassifying existing ones. Currently, there are a number of Class II casinos that could apply for a Class III license. A Class II casino in New York can only operate electronic gaming machines, such as slot machines or bingo. A Class III license would allow them to operate sportsbooks and sports betting kiosks. Renovating existing casinos would be less expensive and take less time than new construction. Existing casinos also have the benefit of already having a customer base.

Other than reclassifying current Class II casinos, the only option left would be moving up the end date of the moratorium. To do that, Senator Addabbo or another legislator would have to do so with new legislation. It is possible that an amendment could be attached to the current bill, but that would risk alienating some supporters of the bill and it may not be passed.

Conclusion

The fight to expand New York’s sports betting industry is on the verge of entering its fourth year. Proponents of the expansion, such as New York State Senator Joseph Addabbo, have been guiding New York in this direction through legislation for years. Now, Addabbo hopes he is on the cusp of making a big step toward his end goals.

Senator Addabbo has a bill, S7536, in committee that could move the New York sports betting industry ahead by leaps and bounds. The current bill would allow for qualifying stadiums to host their own sports betting kiosks onsite. It would also open the door for VLTs and OTBs to operate sports betting kiosks.

Addabbo has also been vocal about his plans to push for more expansion in the future. His ultimate goals include incorporating sports betting kiosks and fixed-odds racing at New York’s racetracks. The state senator is also expected to push to end the Empire State’s moratorium on issuing new gambling licenses.