Ohio and New York Miss Sports Betting Legislative Timelines
Ohio and New York Miss Sports Betting Legislative Timelines
Yankee Stadium on May 27, 2021 in New York City. Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP

Two states that have promised their citizens a broad legal sports betting platform by the start of the NFL season have unfortunately suffered setbacks with their plans. Both New York and Ohio were expected to be in full-planning mode by now, but each missed a key legislated deadline to have something tangible in place.

New York looked to be on a solid path toward the adoption of a long-awaited and much-needed mobile sports betting platform and Ohio was expected to have some sort of resolution on the legalization of sports betting for their state last week, but speedbumps ensued and at a minimum have threatened to push back potential launch past the desired September 9 NFL kickoff date.

New York

The New York legal sports betting looked to be a shoo-in to add mobile sports betting to its underwhelming retail betting sector. Once Governor Andrew Cuomo finally gave his long-awaited blessing after years of reluctance, it seemed like just a formality for lawmakers.

Lawmakers in New York gave themselves until July 1 to have something concrete for the state’s Senate to vote on, but legislators failed in their attempt to have a draft prepared to vote on. It puts the hopeful beginning of the NFL season as a launch-date in serious jeopardy.

“Well, the fact that our state couldn’t meet its initial mobile sports betting deadline to take a positive step towards recognizing additional educational and anti-addiction funding is disappointing,” said Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr, one of the Bill sponsors and biggest cheerleader for mobile betting for his state.

Home of an almost non-existent retail scene at four upstate out-of-the-way retail facilities, online was viewed as a logical step to modernize what is viewed as an antiquated way to do business. Mobile is also a way to keep some gambling dollars in their state rather than seeing that money flow to states like New Jersey which estimates about 25% of their US industry-best handles coming from New York bettors.

The Garden State consistently reports about 90% of their incredible handles coming from mobile apps, a luxury not yet extended to New York bettors.

“New York has the potential to be the largest sports wagering market in the United States, and by legalizing online sports betting we aim to keep millions of dollars in tax revenue here at home, which will only strengthen our ability to rebuild from the Covid-19 crisis,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a recent statement.

“Mobile sports betting we think could raise $500 million dollars. Many states have done it.” Governor Cuomo added.

Ohio

Ohio is another state that looked to be on a fast track toward legal sports legislation but was unable to draft the necessary rules by its lawmakers’ self-imposed June 30 deadline. “We want to get something done by June 30,” said co-sponsor Sen. Kirk Schuring of Stark County back on May 6 when Ohio lawmakers introduced a legal sports betting.

Hope has turned into disappointment in Ohio as lawmakers haven’t been able to hit their goal of something tangible by June 30. “I’m very disappointed. We definitely wanted to get this done by June 30. It is very unfortunate that we haven’t,” State Sen. Niraj Antani said. “I think we all need to make a concerted effort to work over the summer to get this done during September when we come back into session.”

The Ohio effort has been plagued by amendments, changes about how to deliver the Bill to the state’s Congress and even an effort to attach it to a Veterans ID bill. Without broad agreements on the “how’s”, Ohio’s sports betting legalization sits in limbo.

Who would be eligible for legal sports betting licenses has also been a bone of contention for Ohio lawmakers.

“It would seem that the concerns that members of the House were going to have were the fact that the casinos were just basically being bounced out of being able to get a brick-and-mortar sports book. That concern was raised by two senators even during the vote in the Senate. They fixed that basically when they added it to HB 29 so that basically the casinos would be on equal footing with sports teams. Sports teams would still get preferential treatment, but there would be enough licenses to go around for the casinos to also get one,” said industry analyst Jeff Edelstein. “I’m not sure what more the House would be looking for.”

Where Both Scenes Sit

As it stands, talks are ongoing in both New York and Ohio about their legal sports betting scenes. But the clock is definitely ticking for those lawmakers, regulators, betting providers and wagering public that hope to be able to see wagers happen by the start of the NFL season.

Final drafts still have to be written and approved and licensing applications must be submitted, poured over and accepted. Each step takes time – hence the deadlines that were laid out and ultimately missed.

Lawmakers in Ohio have at least promised to keep talks going and New York proponents likely won’t let the issue die just yet. But each state may have to temper its expectations of having a new sports betting platform in place by the NFL season, and maybe even 2021.

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