New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a complete reversal on his stance regarding mobile and online sports betting in the Empire State.
In a Wednesday press conference, the governor announced his plans for his state budget proposal and said that he would be including the expansion of sports betting, which is currently allowed only at New York’s upstate casinos.
Cuomo said that his administration believes that legalizing online betting could bring $500 million in annual tax revenue to the state, which is currently experiencing a budget shortfall. He also said the state Lottery Division would develop and regulate the market, according to a report from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
Casinos would partner with the state, but the government would ultimately be running the market.
“Many states have done sports betting, but they basically allow casinos to run their own gambling operations,” said Cuomo. “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.”
For the last several years, Cuomo has opposed expanding sports betting to the virtual realm, citing constitutional concerns. When lawmakers passed sports betting regulations for the state at the start of 2019, Cuomo believed that in order to legalize online betting, an amendment to the state constitution must be made.
But after his state was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, and he ordered many facets of the state’s economy to close, the budget deficit grew to $13 billion and he suddenly changed his tune.
The announcement comes about a week after legislators began pushing for the addition of mobile betting as a new avenue for tax revenue.
The closest sportsbook for New York City residents is several hours away. The addition of online betting could give the largest city in the country access to sports betting, and possibly take away from the New Jersey market, which has become the biggest sports betting market in America.