Pretlow files mobile sports betting bill in New York

4 March 2019

Lawmakers in New York are to run the rule over a new bill that would legalise sports betting on mobile devices, in licensed casinos and at designated wagering lounges across the state.

Introduced by Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, bill A06113 would amend the current racing, pari-mutuel wagering and breeding laws in the state in order to permit sports betting.

Consumers aged 21 or older would be able to place wagers on professional and collegiate sports events, but wagering on high school competitions would not be permitted. The New York State Gaming Commission would be responsible for regulating the market.

Operators that secure a licence to offer sports wagering services in New York would be taxed at a rate of 8.5% of gross sports betting revenue.

Tax collected from sports wagering activities would be split between various causes, including problem gambling education and treatment efforts, as well as to help cover the cost of regulation.

Licensed casinos that offer sports betting will also have to pay a “royalty fee” of 0.2% of the amount wagered on sports events conducted by registered sports governing bodies. This payment must be made within 30 days of the end of any calendar year.

The bill did not say how much licences would cost under the proposed measures, but it did state that casinos seeking to offer mobile sports betting would be able to work with a third-party partner, provided that this partner also secures a licence in New York.

Consumers would be able to make deposits and withdrawals from their mobile account in-person at a casino or an affiliated facility, as well as via authorised electronic payment methods and other means approved by the commission. Licensees must ensure their mobile betting servers are located at their own, licensed facility.

In terms of allowing sports betting at designated lounges, the bill classifies these facilities as an area that operates a legal sports pool. Both in-person and mobile sports betting would be permitted in these lounges.

This would seemingly open up the possibility of in-stadium, legal sports betting, with Madison Square Garden (MSG) having already applied to trademark its MSG brand for sports wagering purposes.

Madison Square Garden Company - which operates MSG - has filed an application to use the MSG brand across online, mobile and social media. The filing requests MSG be trademarked for downloadable mobile apps for sports wagering, as well as organising, arranging, conducting and participating in sports wagering tournaments, providing information related to sports bets, and competitions and contests.

Sports wagering regulation has been on the agenda for some time in New York, with the New York State Gaming Commission having commenced talks on possible laws for the market in January. It was effectively greenlit as far back as 2013, when a bill allowing the establishment of land-based casinos was ratified by voters in a referendum, with an admendment allowing sports betting, provided the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act be struck down. However, this amendment only permits in-person wagering.

Initial laws set out by the Commission include sports betting only be conducted in dedicated, in-venue lounges, which must be at least 500 square feet, with no form of on-property mobile wagering or online betting permitted.

All individuals directly involved in the operation of the sportsbook offering must be licensed or registered by the Commission, under the terms of the state’s Racing, Pari-Mutuel Wagering and Breeding Law.

Casinos may also partner with a vendor to operate or assist in the running of the sportsbook, with all four existing commercial venues having already done so

Aside from sports betting, Assemblyman Pretlow is making a play for legal online poker in New York, having put a separate bill forward last month. Passed by the New York Committee on Racing and Wagering, Bill A04924, sets out plans to classify interactive poker as a game of skill rather than luck.