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Sports Betting

This March 8 photo shows college basketball betting odds on a screen at the Tropicana casino in Atlantic City N.J.

A key state Senate committee advanced a bill Monday that would allow mobile sports betting in New York. 

The Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee approved a bill sponsored by the panel's chair, state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, that would allow commercial casinos to offer mobile sports wagering. The measure received bipartisan support from the committee's members, including Republican state Sen. Pam Helming who represents the Finger Lakes region. 

The committee's review of the legislation followed a public hearing Thursday in Albany. Several stakeholders testified at the meeting and spoke in support of Addabbo's bill to allow mobile sports betting. 

Some neighboring states, such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania, accept mobile bets. But New York's plan to legalize sports betting doesn't include a mobile component. 

"There is so much revenue that could be coming to this state that is going to other states and that is going to operations that are not legal within the borders of New York," said state Sen. James Gaughran, a Long Island Democrat and member of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee. He supports the mobile sports betting bill. 

Before the committee's vote Monday morning, state Gaming Commission Executive Director Robert Williams testified about the mobile sports betting bill and other matters. Gov. Andrew Cuomo previously raised constitutional concerns about mobile sports betting. He believes a constitutional amendment is needed before the state can accept wagers on mobile platforms. 

Williams reiterated those concerns at the meeting. 

"I don't think we've resolved those yet, but it is something that I know from an internal standpoint we're examining the bill, taking a look at the new bill that was just introduced I think last week and seeing how those relate and whether those help address any of the concerns that we may have," he said. 

Addabbo, D-Queens, and Assemblymember Gary Pretlow resolved differences between their bills and released an amended version earlier this month. 

The bill would require bettors to be in New York when wagering on sporting events. Casinos that offer mobile sports betting would be required to pay a $12 million licensing fee to the state and a 0.2% royalty fee to sports governing bodies. Casinos would pay a 12 percent tax on the gross gaming revenue from mobile sports bets. 

Helming, R-Canandaigua, said she supports the bill despite her concerns about the impact on racinos. Her district is home to Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack, a racino in Ontario County. She hopes that there will be further discussions about how racinos might be able to participate in sports betting or if there are options for providing financial assistance. 

"It kills me in many ways to vote aye, but I believe that it's the right thing to do to move the conversation forward and to make sure New York gets our fair share of revenues," she said. 

The bill now heads to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration. If that panel advances the bill, it could get a floor vote. 

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Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.