The Future of Sports Wagering in New York

Continuing Legal Education Materials

Summary by Richard Rifkin, Legal Director, Government Law Center

On March 10, the Government Law Center offered a discussion as part of its Warren M. Anderson Legislative Seminar Series on the topic of sports wagering. This was a timely program, as proposals to enhance this type of wagering in New York were, at that time, very much a part of the budget negotiations that were scheduled to conclude on March 31. Everyone on the panel was in favor of adopting legislation expanding sports wagering, but there were very substantial differences in how this should be done

Bennett Liebman, who had served the state as a racing and wagering official from the administration of Governor Mario Cuomo into the administration of Governor Andrew Cuomo and currently is a Government-Lawyer-in-Residence at Albany Law School, led off the discussion by reviewing a history of all of the types of wagering now lawful in New York. He noted that there were three major conceptual proposals for sports wagering that were being discussed as of the date of the program: permitting many entities to accept wagers in a large market; permitting several entities authorized by the state; and having a tightly state-controlled program, using the lottery as a model. Liebman noted that the Governor's proposal was short on details.

Stacey Rowland '90, who is counsel to Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady, spoke next and emphasized the important role that casinos now play and proposed that they continue to do so. She noted that the currently four authorized upstate casinos play an important role in bringing jobs to the communities in which they are located and enhance economic development in those communities. She argued that these casinos, which currently have exclusive rights to offer sports wagering, should all continue to be players in whatever is finally enacted.

Daniel Wallach, an attorney who specializes in sports wagering throughout the country, discussed a complex and detailed bill pending in the State Legislature sponsored by Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, chairs of the gaming committees in each of their respective houses. Wallach noted that the bill had been put together over a number of years with the involvement of the interested players in the discussions. He believed that this was a well-thought-out proposal that should be adopted and was preferable to the Governor's proposal which, even at this late date, had little in the way of detail.

The final speaker was Shanna Cassidy, Director of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering and a member of Senator Addabbo's staff. She discussed the legislative bill, and she noted that the discussions on the Governor's proposal and the legislative proposal were likely to become intense just prior to March 31, with an agreement, or the lack of an agreement, to be decided very shortly before the budget deadline.

The panelists provided a useful detailed overview of the issues associated with the proposed sports wagering plans. 

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