NY looks to online sports gambling to save downtrodden economy


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Farah Javed, Managing Editor

After tremendous losses of revenue, New York is now turning to online sports gambling as a means to generate much needed money through its highly debated Bill, S17D.

Across the state, New York only allows sports betting in physical locations called sportsbooks. Currently, there are seven sportsbooks in the state but no online platforms. Before the pandemic, New Yorkers who wanted to gamble online would have gone to New Jersey or Pennsylvania, where online sports betting is legal.

Betters placed their wagers using mobile applications made available by these two states. From a competitive market model vantage point then, New York loses revenue due to its legal restrictions and inaccessibility to these apps. It also misses out on licensing and advertising opportunities, which would bring in much needed money.

In the past, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has rejected legalizing online sports gambling under the justification that it violates New York’s constitution. Cuomo reasoned that online sports gambling does not fit the description of what is permitted according to the states’ rules. Despite this, legalization is still in consideration. Bill S17D would legalize online sports betting, allowing betters to use virtual currency, to make wagers.

Talks regarding S12D, however, have stalled due to the pandemic.

New York Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr., a proponent for passing the bill, believes that it is necessary now more than ever to help refuel the economy. “This is the way that New York is losing revenue, number one. [We’re] losing educational funding because a portion of our gaming wages goes toward educational funding. And also, the addiction problem. Right now, if you want to help someone who has a gaming addiction you can’t help them because you don’t know who they are. Now that the pandemic’s hit, now you just added another upwards of $10 billion to our already $7 billion deficit in our budget. So the revenue need grows,” he said to The Spread. According to his reasoning, if Bill S17D is passed, New York would experience a sudden influx of spending money. That money could then rebuild the downtrodden economy by fueling businesses and bringing back jobs.

Besides calculating projected revenue from legalizing online sports betting, Addabbo also plans to adhere to New York’s constitution in the bill.

“At first, the question was of the constitutionality of mobile sports betting in our state,” said Sen. Addabbo. “But I think we’ve gone beyond the constitutionality issue because once you put the server that actually accepts the wager on the land of the licensed casino, you satisfy our constitutionality issue as well as the intent of the constitution,” he said to LegalSportsBetting.

Essentially, this means that by only allowing online betting within a certain distance to the seven authorized locations for gambling, the constitution would still be upheld.

Beyond this, gambling itself remains a highly contested issue. Some are against it due to religious or ethical beliefs, while others are concerned about the dangers of developing gambling addictions.

For now, others like Sen. Addabbo believe S17D is the answer to New York’s money troubles. Still, it all boils down to evaluating whether lawmakers should prioritize helping businesses prosper or supporting the wellbeing of New Yorkers. Before passing or rejecting the bill, Cuomo will have to weigh these costs and decide if S17D really works in the best interests of New York.