Don’t worry, New Yorkers, you can stop taking NJ Transit or using a VPN to place your bets. Early this morning, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he will embrace mobile sports betting. He plans to make the news official at his State of the State address next week. The details aren’t exactly known yet. But it looks like New York will become the most populous state to offer legal, mobile sports betting.
In a statement, Cuomo told the New York Daily News: “New York has the potential to be the largest sports wagering market in the United States, and by legalizing online sports betting we aim to keep millions of dollars in tax revenue here at home, which will only strengthen our ability to rebuild from the COVID-19 crisis.”
By “here at home” he means out of New Jersey, which has become the unofficial gambling capital of America. In November, Garden State gamblers wagered a record $931 million. And the state’s sports betting handle beat Nevada’s every month of 2020.
Another reason to legalize sports betting? Budget shortages exacerbated by COVID, as Cuomo mentions. In June, Deadspin wrote about the odds of sports gambling legalization in a pandemic. We wondered whether a health crisis and economic recession would spur state governments to consider legalization.
Looks like New York will.
“At a time when New York faces a historic budget deficit due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cuomo said, “the current online sports wagering structure incentivizes a large segment of New York residents to travel out of state to make online sports wagers or continue to patronize black markets.”
One of the most vocal advocates for legal mobile sports gambling in New York is State Senator Joseph Addabbo. When Deadspin spoke to Addabbo in June, he told us that the pandemic has “wreaked havoc” on the state economically. With professional sports on pause at the time, he thought the time was right to “seriously consider mobile sports betting.”
In a statement released this morning, Addabbo was encouraged by Cuomo’s remarks. “By legalizing mobile sports betting, New York will be able to reap the benefits of the economic gains it will create and help the state rebuild after the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to increasing educational funding, addressing illegal activity in the state and assisting those with gaming addictions. I look forward to working with the Governor and his office to efficiently implement mobile sports betting for the people of New York.”
Cuomo has flirted with sports gambling before but left mobile sports wagering off the NY state budget in 2020. He has also called sports betting a “complicated issue” that “has to be done in a comprehensive way” in May.
Last month, Cuomo signaled his support for legalized sports betting. And in next week’s State of the State Address, Cuomo will call for the legalization of two practices long seen as vices — sports betting and marijuana. The announcements come one day after a coalition of more than 100 grassroots advocacy organizations released their “Invest In Our New York” legislative agenda to raise between $50 and $70 billion annually via initiatives such as ending tax breaks for the state’s wealthiest residents, which Cuomo has resisted throughout the COVID crisis.