New York’s Senate and State House Assembly have lit the touch paper on expanded gambling in the state this week with votes on two separate bills that will set in motion the creation of new casino licenses for the downstate zone, including one in New York City.
Crucially, they set the stage for the long-overdue introduction of mobile sports betting in the state, with potentially two sports wagering brands allowed per casino. All going to plan, that could create 20 licenses across the established seven casinos (four commercial and three tribal) and three new casinos.
Senate budget proposal S 2509B, markedly different from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s lottery-driven model, allows for multiple operators in a bid to encourage increased competition and choice throughout the state. The New York State House Assembly’s sports-betting bill — Bill A 3009 is closer in content to Assemblyman Gary Pretlow’s bill.
The Assembly bill sets out to include two mobile skins for each of the state’s four commercial casinos and three tribal gaming operators at a cost of $12m per license for each operator. Tax has been set at 12% for mobile and 8.5% for terrestrial betting. Off-track betting facilities will be allowed to partner with a casino to host on-site, self-service kiosks.
The date set for the proposed three downstate casino applications is July 1, and applicants will each be required to pay $500m in licensing fees. The two existing downstate casinos – Empire City in Yonkers and Resorts World Casino in Queens – could be first in line for sports betting licenses.
While this week’s moves will be welcomed by an expectant sports betting industry, barriers still remain before New York can get down to business. To begin with, the Senate and Assembly will have to reconcile the differences in the two budget proposals and Cuomo still has to be dissuaded from pursuing his single-operator vision.
But with New York trailing behind neighboring New Jersey and Pennsylvania and their burgeoning sports betting returns, the Governor may have to yield to a more free-market approach similar to that in other states.
This week’s development is a massive step in the right direction for New York – bringing the prospect of new casino licenses and mobile sports betting across the state much closer to reality. But to wake this sleeping giant, Governor Cuomo will still have to be convinced that his single-operator vision is not the way forward. All the evidence is already there from every other state that has so far taken the legal route to sports betting and embraced mobile wagering along the way. This is perhaps not the best time to be staring into a budgetary black hole through a rolled up copy of the New York Times!