Gov. Andrew Cuomo expresses support for online sports betting in New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, for the first time, is expressing support for online sports betting in his state.

On Wednesday, Cuomo announced legislation to authorize mobile sports betting as part of his 2021 State of the State address. The proposal, if passed, would give the New York Gaming Commission authority to issue licenses to sportsbook operators, with the requirement they maintain a partnership with one of the state's existing retail casinos, where sports betting has been allowed since 2019. Licensees also would be required to include safeguards against abuse and addiction.

If successful, experts believe New York has a chance to be home to one of the largest legal sports betting markets in the U.S., potentially worth nearly $1 billion in annual taxable revenue.

Cuomo resisted previous efforts to legalize mobile sports betting in New York but now is pointing to the budget deficit caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the number of bettors who are traveling out of state to place their bets at legal sportsbooks like in New Jersey as reason to move forward.

"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 revenue here at home, which will only strengthen our ability to rebuild from the COVID-19 crisis," Cuomo said in a release.

A 2018 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the federal statute that had restricted regulated sports betting to primarily Nevada. Since the decision, legal sportsbooks have begun operating in 19 states and the District of Columbia, with several more states poised to launch betting markets in 2021.

The majority of those jurisdictions allow online betting, which has proved to be the preferred method for customers. In November, 93.6% of the $931.6 million wagered with New Jersey sportsbooks took place online.

Through November, New Jersey sportsbooks have generated $324.6 million in revenue, while New York's retail-only sportsbooks have generated approximately $500,000 on the year.

Mobile sports betting could provide a significant boon. Gambling industry trade publication VIXIO Gambling Compliance estimates a comprehensive online sports betting market in New York could generate $969 million in taxable revenue and $12.5 billion in wagering handle annually by 2025.