The ongoing struggle to legalize mobile sports betting in New York State was given a high-profile airing this week during SBC’s Betting on Sports America – Digital conference. A dedicated panel, “Mobilizing Change in New York”, featured Senator Joseph Addabbo alongside Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, and American Racing and Entertainment’s Jeff Gural.

Moderator John Pappas of Corridor Consulting, asked the panelists to talk about the current standoff afflicting progress towards mobile betting in New York, specifically in the light of the COVID pandemic.

The responses suggest that while there is some way to go to achieving that end, there is some movement – and the health crisis has, if anything, added extra impetus. 

Addabo explained: “COVID has changed us tremendously at the state legislature, not only procedurally, but the way we look at things both in terms of health care and in terms of economics. And that’s where Gary (Pretlow), my good friend in the Assembly, and I have really pushed hard for mobile sports betting being activated in New York State.”

While the standoff continues, Pretlow believes there are gains to be made before the New Year. “We do have to do a revenue bill, and if we do a revenue bill between now and the beginning of the year, which isn’t a lot of time, I’ve been told by the speaker of the Assembly that sports betting will be part of that revenue bill.”

Both Addabbo and Gural believe that the sports leagues can still play an influential role in getting mobile betting over New York’s finish line. “I believe they can be very helpful and have been helpful in the past,” said Addabbo. He added: “Their input is some of the language that has been included in the bill with respects to the integrity of the sport – they weighed in very heavily on that.

“I think they can be very influential when speaking to the Governor’s office and talking about the revenue and amount of jobs at stake in this pandemic time. I think they can be very helpful, have been very helpful and continue to be active in this pursuit of mobile sports betting in New York. 

Gural agreed, adding that the leagues’ pursuit of a revenue cut may have lessened. He said: “Two years ago when this was in its infancy the leagues were very active. I think they were looking to take a piece of the revenue for themselves. I think that they recognize that they’ve made a lot of money from sports betting. You can see that if you go into some of the stadiums that they have sponsorships with FanDuel and DraftKings. 

“So I think that they’ve come to realize that they’re doing OK financially and that under the circumstances it would not look good for the leagues to take a piece of the revenue that the states would ordinarily keep. So I think the leagues recognize that this is good for them when things get back to normal. I’ve always felt that it (sports betting) was good for the leagues because people stay tuned.”