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Governor Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers both want to bring online sports betting to NY, but they disagree on how.

Danny Small

The wheels are in motion for online sports betting in NY, but it’s tough to know how and when it will arrive. Although New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is ready to move forward on mobile sports betting, there is a difference of opinion on how to do that.

Gov. Cuomo wants to use the lottery to control NY online sports betting, but that could limit the state to one operator. Members of the NYS Senate and Assembly are proposing legislation that would allow up to 14 different operators in the state and thus, provide New Yorkers with more options.

Gov. Cuomo’s rationale for the lottery plan is that it would allow the state to have more control than the casinos and thus, see a higher return on tax revenue.

“We want to do sports betting the way the state runs the lottery where the state gets the revenues,” Cuomo said in his Wednesday press conference. “Many states have done sports betting but they basically allow casinos to run their own gambling operations. That makes a lot of money for casinos but it makes minimal money for the state.

“And I’m not here to make casinos a lot of money. I’m here to raise funds for the state. So we have a different model for sports betting.”

On its face, this plan makes sense. Gov. Cuomo is looking at how to help replenish the state’s coffers amidst a major deficit.

Still, it’s not the only way to help pull the state out of an economic hole argues one NYS lawmaker. Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr., the chair of the NYS Senate Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee and a longtime proponent of mobile sports betting, argues that going through the lottery with a single operator is not the best course.

Sen. Addabbo is sponsoring Senate Bill S1183 which aims to allow up to 14 online operators in the state. Meanwhile, Assemblymember J. Gary Pretlow is proposing identical legislation in the NYS Assembly. Sen. Addabbo and Assem. Pretlow have been leading the charge on online sports betting in New York.

While Sen. Addabbo understands Gov. Cuomo’s desire to maximize potential tax revenue, he also sees an opportunity to create jobs.

“We also have an opportunity to create jobs. When your state is witnessing 3.8 million people calling the Department of Labor looking for unemployment benefits, you know people are suffering,” Sen. Addabbo explained to ESNY.

“You have to create jobs. The whole gaming industry in New York is not only a revenue generator, it’s a job generator.”

Jobs, jobs, jobs.

The single-source system would exclude plenty of stakeholders from the process — NYRA, the horse racing industry at large, casinos, and arenas just to name a few. Opening up the market to more operators would undoubtedly create more jobs in the industry.

And to be clear, Senate Bill S1183 can walk and chew gum at the same time. While it is not quite the $500 million that Gov. Cuomo claims his plan could net in tax revenue annually, conservative estimates project Senate Bill S1183 will bring in $79 million towards education annually and $84 million in licensing fees from operators.

This situation remains fluid, but we should learn more about Gov. Cuomo’s intentions in the State of the State on Monday. The good news is that online sports betting is on the horizon in NY.