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New York Governor Has Change of Heart on Mobile Gambling

January 13, 2021

For two years now, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been adamant in his opposition to mobile gambling. While the reasons for his opposition are not clear, it has been enough to keep the state legislature in New York from putting forth any meaningful mobile sports betting legislation.

In a turn of events that has brought much surprise to the U.S. sports betting community, Governor Cuomo has had a change of heart. The news came from a report that was released this week. The report was confirmed by Governor Cuomo. However, the report also contained an unexpected twist.

At a press conference, Governor Cuomo told the press that he would be pushing for the state lottery to run the state's sports betting operations. In the following statement, his reasoning becomes very clear:

“Many states have done sports betting, but typically they allow casinos to run their own operations. That makes lots of money for the casinos, but it makes minimal amounts for the state.”

As support for his position, Cuomo, through an aide, was quick to point out that neighboring New Jersey has the most robust sports betting operations in the country. Yet, the state has only collected just under $85 million in revenue since they started allowing residents to bet on sports in 2018. By comparison, the aide claimed New York could bring in between $100 million and $500 million annually if the state lottery has control.

It's worth noting there is plenty of precedents for New York to defer its sports betting operations to the state lottery. In Tennessee, the only gambling regulatory body is the state lottery. In states like Delaware, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, Montana, and Washington, D.C., sports betting is controlled by the state's lottery commission.

With the announcement, Governor Cuomo has initiated a battle against the state's casinos and racetracks. Why? Well, a good portion of the revenues that would normally go to the casinos and racetracks would end up in the pockets of the lottery commission.

While expressing his displeasure with Cuomo's announcement, Jeff Gural, who also runs an upstate New York casino, Tioga Downs, had this to say:

“I don’t think he understands the business model of sports betting. The state will lose a fortune if they run it themselves.”

It is noteworthy that states that run their sports betting operations through the lottery seem to be underperforming. Oregon's lottery actually lost money the first year its lottery ran the state's sports betting operations.


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