Cuomo opens door to mobile sports betting in New York 

Cuomo

ALBANY — Following the lead of 19 other states, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he is now convinced New York will benefit financially by allowing mobile sports betting.

One consulting company, Vixio Gambling Alliance, estimates the domestic sports betting market could mushroom to $8.4 billion by 2024.

The state Gaming Commission would control a sports betting network under the governor’s plan. The commission regulates horse racing and charitable gambling events such as bingo and the state lottery.

The governor’s proposal differs from ones advanced by pro-gaming state lawmakers that would have the mobile sports betting action controlled by casinos.

Budget Director Robert Mujica said a state-run sports betting entity could yield some $500 million for the state, dwarfing the estimated $50 million New York coffers would get if the casinos managed the wagering.

“I’m not here to make casinos a lot of money,” Cuomo said. “I’m here to raise funds for the state, so we have a different model for sports betting.”

As news of the New York plan reached Wall Street traders, the Roundhill Sports Betting & iGaming ETF (BETZ) shot up by 4.4% to an all-time high. It holds shares in 39 companies, including DraftKings Inc., whose stock price jumped by more than 8%, Bloomberg News reported.

Cuomo said his plan calls for the state to work with a partner in setting up the betting platform. The governor had previously been chilly to the idea of mobile sports betting but the state’s looming multi-billion-dollar deficit has lawmakers and Cuomo seeking ways to expand the revenue base.

The existing New York casinos can take wagers on athletic contests, but only on premises. The pandemic and related travel restrictions have crimped business at those venues.

Meanwhile, at a Zoom briefing, Cuomo said New York hospitals have greatly increased the number of COVID-19 vaccines being administered each day. He began the week by threatening to impose hefty fines on hospitals slow to inoculate health care workers who are in the state’s first tier of eligibility for the doses.

“The vaccination rate has tripled since Monday,” said Cuomo. He has been urged by several county government leaders to ease up on the threats to hospitals and give local health departments a wider role in distributing the vaccine at a time when the statewide infection total is surging.

Cuomo also weighed in on the results of the special U.S. Senate elections in Georgia, saying the fact the apparent winners are both Democrats should boost New York’s case for a federal bailout when Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., takes over as Senate majority leader later this month.

Contending Republicans were callous to New York’s fiscal troubles, Cuomo said: “They took from the rich states, and they gave to the poor states. New York happens to be a rich state. The Republican states happened to be poor states.”

Cuomo also said he will work to legalize the commercial sale of marijuana in New York, an initiative that stumbled last year after sheriffs and physicians formed a coalition to fight it.

“This is a year where we do need the funding,” Cuomo said. “And a lot of New Yorkers are struggling.”

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