New York legislation could allow sports betting at stadiums

NEW YORK -- A sponsor of sports betting legislation in New York said the bill likely would allow for in-person wagering at places like Yankee Stadium and Madison Square Garden

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow said Friday the legislation he announced this week is being tweaked and will have that provision unless he receives strong opposition.

"That is one of the changes, that we would open it up to have affiliates such as Madison Square Garden, which has expressed an interest in doing this," the Westchester County Democrat told a panel at Cardozo Law School. "I think it's a great idea."

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo, also a Democrat, took a more cautious tone.

"To do it right, I think we need to do it in a very methodical manner," Addabbo said. "I see sports betting being rolled out over a couple of years, to make sure we do it both legally and respecting the integrity of the sport, which is very important, and protecting the consumer. And then I would suggest we do roll it out to the stadiums and other venues at some point."

In an emailed statement, the Madison Square Garden Company said "there are several areas, such as on-site gaming, we'd like to explore with the State and our league partners."

The Supreme Court struck down a federal sports gambling ban last year. Since then, no stadiums or arenas in the eight states that have offered sports gambling have on-site betting operations. New Jersey, for example, restricts in-person gambling to casinos and racetracks.

Washington, D.C. approved gambling at stadiums and arenas in December, but it has yet to be implemented.

One feature New Jersey offers that is proving a thorny issue in New York is mobile sports gambling. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state officials have contended the state constitution would have to be amended for mobile wagering to be legal. But on Friday Pretlow said he has been led to believe that the governor has revised his view.

A Cuomo spokesman didn't immediately return a message seeking comment Friday.

The issue is a crucial one: amending the constitution could take more than two years, and Pretlow said if the administration maintains its stance on his current legislation, "I won't have the votes."

Four upstate New York casinos have been approved to offer sports gambling but are awaiting final regulatory approval from the state's gaming commission. Stacey Rowland, counsel to Rivers Casino and Resort in Schenectady, said the casino had hoped to get the draft regulations last year but didn't get them until this January. Once they are published in the state registry there is a 60-day comment period before final approval, she said.

"The status is, we're just waiting for what the status is," she said.

New York legislators only have to look one state to the west to see the revenue potential of sports gambling. In New Jersey, the state that mounted the successful legal challenge to the federal ban, gamblers bet $385 million on sports in January, which included about $305 million online or via mobile devices.

That helped Atlantic City's nine casinos collectively post a revenue increase of nearly 20 percent over the same month a year earlier, before sports betting was legalized.

"All due respect to anybody from New Jersey out there," Addabbo told the panel Friday. "We're going to do it better. And bigger. We are New York."

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