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Queens lawmaker hails mobile sports betting inclusion in state budget

State Senator Joseph Addabbo hopes mobile sports betting begins in New York before next year's Super Bowl. (Photo via Flickr)

Queens residents will soon be able to wager on sporting events online under legislation included in the massive $212 billion state budget.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo hopes the legalization of mobile sports betting begins before next year’s Super Bowl, an effort he’s worked on for the past two years.

By legalizing mobile sports betting, New York state is expected to bring in around $99 million in fiscal year 2021-2022 — revenue that would be especially valuable since New York has experienced a major economic deficit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, millions of dollars in revenue and educational funding are flowing to the New Jersey and illegal sports betting markets, and New York stands to gain much of that revenue with this legislation. Plus, Addabbo’s office estimates that the revenue will continue to grow: his office predicts $357 million in fiscal year 2022-2023 and over $500 million in fiscal year 2025-2026, most of which will fund education across the state.

Mobile sports betting will allow people to place wagers on sporting events through their mobile phones or other internet-connected devices.

“We were already facing a budget deficit before the COVID-19 pandemic, so we needed to find additional revenue streams for the state,” Addabbo said. “There was no way out of the hole we found ourselves in. Legalizing mobile sports betting will bring in the funds needed by the state that will go towards funding our education system, problem gambling awareness programs and creating jobs.”

New Yorkers are already placing mobile sports bets, but they are either going to the illegal market or quickly traveling to neighboring states where it is legal to do so. A study found that in 2019, New York residents wagered $837 million in New Jersey on sports bets. Addabbo noted that not only was New York losing revenue to these other outlets, but individuals with gaming addiction issues were not getting the help they needed.

“When New York residents travel to other states or participate in the illegal market to place sports wagers, there is no way for us to identify and help them should they have a gaming addiction,” said Addabbo, who serves as chair of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee. “By safely legalizing mobile sports betting, New York can better recognize and assist those with a gambling problem, with the help of over one dozen safeguards and measures written into the bill’s language.”

The state Gaming Commission is to start the creation of the mobile sports betting process and begin to accept bids from sportsbook providers in July. Addobbo hopes to see mobile sports betting fully functional in New York by the next Super Bowl in 2022.

According to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, Garden State residents bet $117 million on last year’s Super Bowl, an increase of 116 percent from last year’s $54 million in bets on the big game. This year’s total brought New Jersey more than $11 million in revenue.

While it is not currently known exactly how many of those bets were placed online, in December 2020 bettors wagered more than 93 percent of New Jersey’s betting handle through online sites.

“While we already have in-person legal sports betting here in New York, it is clear that states that allow for mobile sports wagering are far more successful,” Addabbo said. “With another Super Bowl gone, New York continues to lag behind other states, even states that have just legalized sports betting, when we should be leading the way. I am hopeful that with the passage of legalized mobile sports betting, New York will soon begin to reap the benefits in terms of revenue, educational funding, addiction programs and jobs. It is an exciting time to be a sports fan in New York.”

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