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Push to legalize mobile sports betting missing from Cuomo’s budget, some hope it will be included in final plan

CITY HALL — Gov. Andrew Cuomo rolled out a $178 billion state budget proposal Tuesday, which called for reigning in costs spending on Medicaid and legalizing recreational marijuana.

But one thing missing some had hoped would wind up in the governor’s budget proposal was legalizing mobile sports betting, something proponents believe could generate well over $30 million a month for the state with New York facing a looming $6 billion budget shortfall.

Last year, a bill that would have legalized mobile sports betting passed in the Senate but was not taken up for a vote in the Assembly. That legislation recently advanced in the Senate’s Finance Committee.

Queens Democrat State Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr, the bill’s sponsor, said he hopes the governor will include language to legalize mobile sports betting in his final budget.

“The Executive Budget’s and state’s need for revenue emphasizes the importance of implementing mobile sports betting in New York and not to miss an opportunity to raise much needed revenue to assist in addressing the expanding $6 billion budget deficit, to increase educational funding, to protect vital programs, to curtail the current illegal sports betting in our state, and to significantly enhance the prospect of creating jobs,” Addabbo said.

“I am hopeful that mobile sports betting is on a similar road as some other issues, such as paid family leave and medical marijuana, which were initially rejected by the governor. Fortunately, these initiatives are now in place to benefit the people of our state — as would mobile sports betting. I look forward to working with the governor’s administration, the State Legislative leadership, and my colleagues on this matter during budget negotiations,” he continued.

Addabbo recently spoke to Cuomo’s legal counsel about the bill and said they did not say legalizing mobile sports betting would be a nonstarter this year.

Cuomo’s budget proposal will launch a process that will include hearings, legislative spending proposals and tweaks from the governor ahead of a March 31 deadline. The governor has wide influence on the state budget, which has increasingly included policy proposals on top of spending.

Cuomo said his administration plans to close the budget gap with over $1 billion in higher-than-expected tax revenues and $1.8 billion in local assistance savings.

However, he had said he won’t support new taxes to help close a budgetary gap.

The governor has previously had Constitutional concerns about legalizing mobile sports betting.

The bill’s sponsor in the Assembly, Democrat Gary Pretlow, thinks Cuomo will be the biggest obstacle in moving the measure forward.

Since sports betting was legalized in New Jersey in 2018, the state has generated more than $3 billion in gaming revenue to date, according to the state’s latest figures.

In 2019, the Garden State raked in a combined $782 million from revenue from sports wagering and internet gaming alone.

And in a year’s time, more money was spent on sportsbooks in New Jersey than in Nevada, according to ESPN.

However, since mobile sports betting was legalized in New Jersey, the state’s gambling hotline saw a surge in gamblers calling to report a sports-betting problem.

(Associated Press material was used in this report.)



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