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Photo courtesy of Roosevelt Sports Bar
Photo courtesy of Roosevelt Sports Bar

The days of the sports bookie may be numbered after the United States Supreme Court struck down on May 14 the federal law that banned sports betting in most states, but a Queens lawmaker with a stake in the case said that New York won’t rush to legalize it.

The court determined that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) — enacted in 1993 in an attempt to maintain the integrity of sports and effectively outlaw sports gambling nationwide — violated the 10th Amendment of the Constitution because it denied states the right to regulate sports betting.

States will now have the option to allow legal sports gambling, which has an estimated value of $150 billion in bets on the illegal market, and New York is prepared to cash in. When the Upstate Gaming Economic Development Act of 2013 passed, it contained a provision that would allow legal sports wagering at casinos if it is legalized on the federal level.

As the ranking member of the New York State Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, state Senator Joseph Addabbo could very well be at the forefront of the conversation about how New York moves forward with sports betting.

When he spoke to QNS on May 15, however, Addabbo said that it’s important for New York to take its time to think about the best strategies to implement it safely.

It can be done administratively, but I think it will be mostly legislatively,” Addabbo said. “We got the green light, but that doesn’t mean we should run into something.”

Addabbo said his main concerns with legal sports betting are preventing corruption within the major sports leagues and increasing services for people who are addicted to gambling.

The conventional wisdom is that once more and more states legalize sports gambling, there will be a catalog of apps to choose from to place bets online right from your phone. With increased access comes increased risk of gambling addiction, as well as incentive for people within the professional sports world to fix the outcome of games and win themselves money on bets that they placed.

But Addabbo believes taking the slow and steady approach should mean allowing the brick-and-mortar casinos in New York to test the betting market first because of their already strict regulations. Resorts World Casino New York City in South Ozone Park — the city’s only casino — could prove to be a major hub for sports betting in that case, and Addabbo commended the casino for the gambling addiction programs it already has in place.

“The idea is to expand those programs along with expanded gaming, and that will always be at the forefront,” Addabbo said.

Resorts World has not yet responded to a request for comment.

As for preventing corruption in the sports, Addabbo said that getting as much input from the major professional leagues as possible will be very important, and the leagues should develop severe punishments for anyone caught altering the integrity of the games. The National Basketball Association has been one of the leaders on this front so far, and Addabbo said the league was present for a public hearing with the Racing Committee in February.

“I totally believe there is a parallel line where you can protect integrity and still have sports gaming alongside it,” Addabbo said.

Whether or not states will be able to actually bring in much added revenue from sports betting is another question, and the answer isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. The leagues may want a cut of the money being bet on their product and the casinos or online services where the bets are placed will get some, too.

But in a state with a $4 billion deficit in its current budget, Addabbo said, any new revenue is welcomed.

“There are so many questions like that and we have to answer them in a methodical way,” Addabbo said. “We’ll start betting in New York small and ramp it up as the years roll on in an effort to protect all factors.”

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