Cuomo Hints at Fast-Tracking Legalization of Online Sports Gambling in New York

In an about-face brought on by a projected $15 billion revenue shortfall in the era of COVID-19, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is making swift legalization of online sports gambling in the state a centerpiece of his administration.

Andrew Cuomo
Gov. Andrew Cuomo had a busy day Wednesday. He said he would make legalization of cannabis and online sports gambling centerpieces of 2021 legislation and committed 1,000 New York National Guard troops to help with the peaceful transition of power in Washington, D.C. over the next two weeks. (Image: Getty)

Cuomo, formerly an adversary of New York opening up for online sports gambling, hinted that the key to regaining fiscal solvency in the state would be to fast-track legalization and regulation efforts this year.

‘New York Residents Travel Out of State to Make Online Sports Wagers’

The governor will reportedly lay out the details of his plans during his upcoming State of the State address slated for mid-January.

In a statement released Wednesday, Cuomo hinted at what’s to come:

“At a time when New York faces a historic budget deficit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the current online sports wagering structure incentivizes a large segment of New York residents to travel out of state to make online sports wagers or continue to patronize black markets,” he said.

Cuomo emphasized that New York has the potential to be the largest sports gambling market in the U.S. He added that legalizing the activity will “keep millions of dollars in tax revenue here at home, which will only strengthen our ability to rebuild from the COVID-19 crisis.”

Starting last month, Cuomo said state shortfalls and economic despair brought on by the pandemic had changed his year’s-long opposition to online sports betting.

His sentiment that New York could be the nation’s most significant in terms of handle is not hyperbole. Next door neighbor New Jersey is on track to make around $5 billion in online sports bets in 2020.

New Jersey Handle Shows New York What’s Possible…Maybe

In November alone, the state took almost one billion dollars in total handle, more than double the second-place state of Nevada. Sports wagers placed in New Jersey are generally between 92% and 98% online.

Though the four casinos located in upstate New York have sportsbooks, most betting in the 18 states that have opened up for sports gambling is done via an app.

Cuomo’s statement helped spark a small surge in online sportsbook stock as the market as a whole rallied Wednesday. MGM, which is currently in negotiations to acquire London-based sportsbook Ladbrokes, was up 2.7%, DraftKings was up 3%, Penn National was up 2.5%, and Flutter Entertainment, which owns FanDuel, was up 2.5%.

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