As New York continues to grapple with the deadly coronavirus, laws are still being contemplated in the Senate and House. New York Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow has been consistently one of the most outspoken advocates for sports betting in the state.
Pretlow has been in office since 1993 and is the Chairman of the Assembly Committee of Wagering and Racing. Earlier this year, Pretlow and members of the committee tried unsuccessfully to get sports betting into the budget for this session.
Governor Andrew Cuomo decided not to put online sports betting into the new budget. That was a crushing blow to Pretlow and the members of the committee. Pretlow has been hard at work ever since, drafting a constitutional amendment that would force the hand of Governor Cuomo.
Pretlow’s goal is to submit an amendment to expand the sports betting and gaming program that the Empire State currently has. Not only will the amendment deal with mobile or online betting, but Pretlow wants sports betting to be offered at Off Track Betting facilities and gaming parlors.
Committee Has Been Working On Amendment
In January 2020, Cuomo called New York “the most progressive state in the country.” Despite that statement, Cuomo didn’t see the merits of allowing sports betting to be accessed via mobile devices and on a laptop or tablet.
Pretlow and his fellow committee members were not happy with the decisions the governor made in January, so after the decision, the committee went back to the drawing board. Now, Pretlow said, “Since we probably won’t be going back to session but a couple of times the rest of the year, I want to do a constitutional amendment, including all that we want to do. That way, no one can use constitutionality as an argument against it.”
Pretlow said that he and the committee members really tried to avoid entering into a constitutional amendment, because of the delays it causes. “We didn’t feel like we had a lot of time, especially with so much state funds now being allocated to fight the worldwide pandemic,” he said. “There is still a long road ahead for mobile sports betting, as far as making it legal in New York.”
New York Legislature Must Pass Mobile Sports Betting Amendment This Year
The process of getting mobile sports betting up and running in New York would require two important steps. One is that the legislature must pass the amendment this year, and they also have to give it the green light next year.
That would be the process to get the mobile sports betting bill on the ballot in November of 2021. Pretlow said he and other sponsors and proponents of the online sports betting bill were very disappointed in January.
That was when Cuomo decided not to include the online sports betting bill in the budget. This despite Cuomo previously saying he was leaning towards including it in the budget.
Pretlow said had he been given a heads-up by Cuomo’s team, the committee could have prepared arguments and data prior to him making the decision. Advocates of mobile sports betting capabilities say that once sports are up and running, New Yorkers will just place their bets in nearby New Jersey.
Pretlow said this is a huge loss for New York and the many programs that could have benefited from the tax revenues.