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Legalizing NY online sports betting would be a step towards protecting New Yorkers and cutting down on the use of illegal offshore books.

The push for NY online sports betting continues to gain steam. New York State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr.’s “Plan, Pass, and Prepare” strategy aims to have an online sports betting bill on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s desk by Dec. 31, 2020. If this strategy is successful, the state will see massive gains in tax revenue from online sports betting in 2021.

Sports betting is already legal in New York so massive progress has already been made. Although it feels like an inevitability, there is still this notion that legalizing online sports betting would be a dangerous move.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Obviously, there are dangers that come with the online aspect of sports betting. The easy access that comes with it can be detrimental to bettors with addiction issues. The good news is that Sen. Addabbo’s “Plan, Pass, and Prepare” strategy addresses these issues.

“One of the concerns is the addiction part. I understand that. I don’t believe we can go forward with expanding sports betting in our state without talking about the addiction. We have to address that,” Sen. Addabbo told ESNY.

The legislation would set aside proceeds from the revenue to address gaming addiction. In a legalized world, there are also ways to impose betting limits, freezing accounts, and other means of protecting bettors.

Another way to prevent addiction is through gaming education, which is built into the current bill. The hope is that by putting funding towards education, the state can help stop addiction before it starts.

“I agree we cannot go forward without addressing addiction and thankfully, the Gaming Commission was given accolades and awards nationally for its treatment of public service announcements with regards to gaming addiction,” Sen. Addabbo added.

Bringing people from illegal offshore books to regulated, legal sportsbooks is another goal of the “Plan, Pass, and Prepare” strategy. Still, many sports fans have a difficult time figuring out what is an illegal offshore book and what is a legal sportsbook.

The CEO of the American Gaming Association, Bill Miller, recently called on the media to stop covering and promoting illegal offshore books.

“Unfortunately, many consumers are still unable to distinguish between safe, legal U.S. sportsbooks and unregulated offshore operators,” Miller wrote.

“This becomes especially difficult when mainstream publications continue to legitimize the dangerous illegal market, blurring the lines between legal, regulated sports betting and the predatory, unregulated offshore market.”

Changing the way we cover sports betting can certainly help the public discern the difference between legal and illegal operations, but that is only one step in the process.

The illegal offshore market takes advantage of vulnerable people. Legalizing online sports betting is the best way to squeeze these operations out of existence. This will undoubtedly create a safer environment for bettors.

“Unregulated sportsbooks also lack any responsible gaming measures,” Miller explained. “Licensed operators commit hundreds of millions of dollars annually to promote responsible gaming and combat problem gambling. Additionally, unlike the legal, regulated market, there are no guaranteed payouts in the offshore market. Offshore operators have a storied history of failing to pay out winning wagers and folding altogether when they go bankrupt. Not to mention the lack of safeguards for financial data.

“But here’s the stark difference in plain terms: illegal, unregulated sportsbooks are predatory.”

Every day that New York State drags its feet on legalizing online sports betting is another day where illegal offshore books are allowed to flourish. Yes, there are obvious dangers that come with sports betting and the addiction part cannot be overlooked. That’s exactly why it’s imperative that the state moves forward with online sports betting legislation in the very near future.

Again, sports betting is already legal in New York State and online sports betting is inevitable too. The train is coming to the station eventually, but much like the D Train going to Yankee Stadium, when it arrives is anybody’s guess.

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.