he Senate approved a budget resolution Wednesday that would allow bettors anywhere in the state — including New York City — to place mobile wagers on sports games through servers connected to four upstate casinos, the New York Post reports.
The move isn’t a longshot, said Sen. Joe Addabbo (D-Queens), chair of the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee.
“Sports betting is in play. There’s a shot we can get this done,” he said.
The debate over mobile sports betting will now be part of the discussions with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Assembly for adoption in the state budget due April 1, he said.
Thus far, Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) have been hesitant about moving forward.
“We have severe constitutional concerns,” said Cuomo senior adviser Rich Azzopardi.
Cuomo’s office says mobile sports betting can only be approved through a constitutional amendment — a lengthy process that would require passage by two consecutive legislatures followed by voter approval in a referendum.
Heastie said there isn’t a groundswell of support for sports betting in the Assembly Democratic conference.
But Addabbo insisted that mobile bets placed through servers at the upstate casinos would pass legal muster.
Initially, downstate bettors would have to physically go to the casinos to set up an online account as an ID security measure to prevent fraud and minors betting. But once they have an account, they can place wire mobile bets from home.
The closest casino to the city authorized for sports betting is Resorts World Catskills in Monticello. The other three are the Rivers Casino in Schenectady, the del Lago Casino in Tyre near Rochester and Tioga Downs near Binghamton.
But without further action by the Legislature, gamblers would have to physically place bets on games at these casinos in person, an unlikely occurrence for city folks who are more than a hundred-some miles away.
Currently, some New York gamblers simply cross the border to New Jersey to wage sports bets on their phones.
Backers of legalized sports betting in New York estimate that the Empire State could net between $10 million and $30 million a year from its own 8.25 percent tax on the entities.
Addabbo said 78 percent of sports betting in New Jersey is done via mobile applications.
Noting that Albany faces a multibillion budget shortfall and the upstate casinos are struggling financially, legalizing mobile sports betting is a win-win, he said.
“You want more money for education and creating jobs. The upstate casinos are hurting. Those jobs there are in jeopardy. You don’t generate the revenue necessary without mobile sports betting,” he said.