Sports betting legislation splits Assembly Democrats

Sports betting legislation splits Assembly Democrats

Some are taking issue with specific parts of the legislation, such as the portion of gross sports wagering revenue that would be directed to the sports leagues whose games are the object of the bets. | Ethan Miller Images

ALBANY — Assembly Democrats have splintered over sports betting with just six days remaining on the legislative schedule. That raises the possibility that nothing will get done this year, even as neighboring New Jersey moves ahead and may implement sports betting as early as this week.

“I’m not sure at this late date in the session there’s going to be enough time to move it through the process,” said Assemblywoman Addie Jenne D-Theresa. “It’s something that deserves discussion, but I’m not certain it’s going to be able to move.”

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POLITICO interviewed more than a dozen lawmakers about the proposed legislation on Monday, and members expressed an array of opinions, agen piala dunia varying from outright support to broad skepticism. A handful declined to comment at all, an indication of just how contentious the issue remains in Albany.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has said he personally does not like gambling but would defer to the prevailing sentiment of his Democratic conference. During his tenure as speaker, Heastie has brought legislation to the floor only if it can garner the 76 votes required for passage without needing Republican support.

Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes D-Buffalo on Monday echoed a similarly ambivalent position.

“Personally, I don’t think it’s necessary, but if people think it’s something important to the constituents in their district and they want to put it on the floor, I’ll certainly give it all consideration,” she said.

The bill, NY A11144 17R, by Racing and Wagering Committee Chairman Gary Pretlow D-Mount Vernon, was formally introduced on Friday and has not been discussed in the internal Democratic conference meeting where Assembly leaders form their floor agenda.

Last-minute deals are commonplace on high-profile legislation, however, and none of the lawmakers interviewed would declare the heavily lobbied issue dead for the year.

“There’s plenty of time,” said Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz D-Bronx, who generally opposes gambling expansion but said he has not made up his mind on the bill. “I’m having an open mind, but I think it’s unfortunate that there will be more gambling than less gambling.”

Assemblyman David Weprin D-Queens said he fully supported Pretlow’s effort and is adding his name as a co-sponsor of the bill.

“People have been betting illegally on games and have been since time immemorial, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t been benefiting from legalized and regulated sports betting in New York state,” he said.

Assemblyman Joe Lentol D-Brooklyn said he is inclined to support the bill but wants more information on the way it would allow horse racetracks and OTBs to offer sports betting without violating the state constitution’s general prohibition on gambling.

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