BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MARCH 12: A view outside of TD Garden, the venue that hosts the Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics on March 12, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. It has been announced that NBA and NHL seasons have been suspended due to COVID-19 with hopes of returning later in the spring. The NBA, NHL, NCAA and MLB have all announced cancellations or postponements of events because of the virus.
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Massachusetts is putting sports betting legislation on the fast track while New York continues to drag its feet on the issue.

Danny Small

Online sports betting in New York is still a dream rather than a reality. While New York sits on its hands, other states are forging ahead.

According to a report from MassLive, fully legalized sports betting is on its way to Massachusetts. The sports betting component is part of a larger bill that is likely to pass, according to political analyst Tony Cignoli.

“There are things in that larger piece of legislation that those legislators want, things for their district that’s important to them,” Cignoli said. “They wind up voting for the sports betting piece too as a necessary vehicle for them to get what they need in that package.”

The legislation will cover retail sportsbooks as well as online sports betting. The mobile component is a piece that some states with legalized sports betting have left out. New York is one of those states.

There are obvious reasons why Massachusetts is putting sports betting on the fast track. The state is dealing with a massive loss in tax revenue in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and needs to find creative ways to make up for those losses. Sports betting is an easy and profitable way to achieve that.

Add in the fact that mobile sports betting is legal in border states Rhode Island and New Hampshire and it’s clear that Massachusetts wants to take advantage of all the potential tax revenue that comes with sports betting. Instead of allowing residents to cross state lines for their bets, Massachusetts is going to keep that money in the state.

The mobile sports betting component will be “untethered,” according to leading gaming law and sports betting attorney Daniel Wallach. This would mean that sportsbooks would not need to be tied to a retail location, casino, or racetrack. Massachusetts would become the first state to launch “untethered” online sports betting.

What This Means For New York

So, what’s holding this up in New York? Sports betting is legal, but without online sports betting, most of the state is left out of the party. Massachusetts is looking at the unprecedented circumstances and taking decisive action.

Meanwhile, New York is hemming and hawing about whether or not online sports betting is constitutional. According to a report from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, New Yorkers spent $837 million on sports betting in New Jersey last year alone.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is asking legislators to meet in a special session to begin the process of drafting a constitutional amendment for online sports betting — a process that could take until 2022 to come to fruition. Speaker Carl Heastie is reportedly doing some informal polling among lawmakers to see if there’s enough support for online sports betting legislation.

It’s still unclear if Governor Cuomo and Speaker Heastie will opt to go down the constitutional amendment route or fast track the bill in 2020. An online sports betting bill passed in the New York State Senate 57-5 in 2019, but was never brought to the Assembly. It would stand to reason that it would pass the Senate with flying colors once again, and there is growing support for it in the Assembly.

Sources tell ESNY that if they truly want to pass the bill, they would have no problem gathering the support needed, especially as many lawmakers worry about cuts to their own districts.

So again, we ask, what’s holding up online sports betting in New York?

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