New York: Bills seek to legalize fixed-odds horse racing wagering

January 8, 2024 12:33 PM
Photo: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com
  • Conor Murphy, Special to CDC Gaming Reports
January 8, 2024 12:33 PM
  • Conor Murphy, Special to CDC Gaming Reports

New York State Sen. Joseph Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow have filed bills in the Legislature to legalize fixed-odds betting on thoroughbred racing and authorize self-service betting kiosks at various venues, including tracks, stadiums and arenas.

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Similar measures were proposed during the 2022 and 2023 sessions but failed to advance beyond committees. Amid these repeated efforts, a broader discussion on legalizing online casinos in New York is emerging as a focal point of potential legislative change.

The fixed-odds betting bill comes at a time when legislators are discussing expanding New York State gambling to include online casinos. Addabbo, who leads the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, has indicated plans to introduce legislation on igaming during this legislative session.

New York faces a multi-billion dollar deficit and is seeking new revenue sources without increasing taxes. Gov. Kathy Hochul, expected to release her 2024 state budget plan this month, has been urged by Addabbo to endorse the fixed-odds wagering and igaming proposals. The senator argues that embracing expanded gambling could recapture a significant portion of the revenue lost to offshore bets or other states, such as Pennsylvania.

“You can’t cut yourself out of a deficit … The idea is you look for revenue. I don’t know what governor would allow New Yorkers to do something in an unsafe manner and lose $1 billion in betting revenues,” Addabbo said.

The New York Racing Association supports the fixed-odds wagering measure, which could include thoroughbred racing as part of the state’s sports wagering program. This would be a notable shift from the current system, which allows wagering on horse racing through advance-deposit wagering platforms offering pari-mutuel betting.

The NYRA supported the 2023 bill, with spokesman Patrick McKenna telling the Times-Union at the time that “allowing mobile sports wagering platforms to offer premium horse racing content would generate untapped gaming revenue for New York State, attract new fans to horse racing and deepen the sport’s overall economic impact.”

The proposed change requires sports betting platforms to strike agreements with tracks licensed for pari-mutuel wagering, allowing tracks to negotiate the proportion of wagering handle returned to racing. The intent is to adapt the pre-existing pari-mutuel system to allow fixed-odds wagering through sports operators, subject to the approval of state Gaming Commission regulators.