New York’s J. Gary Pretlow pushes for mobile sports betting


New York has sports betting already, but the options available still aren’t capturing the attention of the Big Apple. To do that, they’ll need mobile betting, and State representative J. Gary Pretlow is advocating for a bill that would provide that. He spoke with our Becky Liggero Fontana recently on why New York needs to get there.

While the state doesn’t lack for sports betting, residents of New York City have a hard time accessing it. “Right now we have sports betting at our standalone casinos; there are only four of them and they’re all upstate,” Pretlow said. “The closest one to New York City is 90 miles away. That leads people that live in the city to go across the bridge or through the tunnel, go to Jersey and play sports bets. What our intention is, we in the legislature, our intention now is to at least have two downstate casinos, Aqueduct and Yonkers Raceway, but our ultimate goal is to have statewide or intrastate mobile sports betting. That’s where the money is, that’s where all the bets that will be made. And most of Jerseys bets are made on the mobile device.”

The New York State Assembly could pass a sports betting bill, but it wants to pass the perfect bill. “What we’ve really wanted to do is make a bill that would be the national model,” he said. “It was stated earlier that every state has a different law. Well what we would really like to do is make this local law in New York that is so good that every state will then follow that.”

And really, that bill could come any day now, but the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, is on the fence. “I mean, we’re in November now, the session starts the first week in January, legislation which has already written could be passed in January, signed by the government in January, we could have mobile sports betting in the state of New York by the end of January,” Pretlow said. “That’s not going to happen, but it could happen. Right now, the governor, for whatever his reasons are, is kind of holding back. He still has questions on the constitutionality of mobile sports betting. I’m trying to convince him that his opinion is not correct in my opinion. But that’s going to be difficult to do, but I think we’ll win out.”

Part of the problem are the still vocal critics of gambling’s propagation. Pretlow says they have already lost the fight. “My response to that is we have mobile betting right now, and whoever is gambling is gambling illegally,” he said. “The ten billion dollars that is being bet in the state of New York is being bet illegally. Most of it mobiley and offshore places. So what this does is number one, it protects those consumers. I’ve heard stories of people that have accounts in places like Yugoslavia and Eastern Europe where they’re making their bets and out of the blue their identities are stolen and their credit cards numbers are being used. When you have a legal regulated entity like we intend on having in New York, that won’t happen. You’ll be protected, the games will be fair, the betting will be fair, people will be paid and everything will be good. I don’t think it’s going to increase gambling at all. Gambling is happening right now as we speak.”

Liggero Fontana asked him what help New York is getting from the operations side to get this finally passed into law. “Well right now, the bills are done,” he noted. “I don’t want to say we don’t seek outside help, we have had suggestions made by stakeholders. The major league teams came in and spoke with us, what they would like to see in our legislation. The books, the William Hills and company, that type, they have spoken with us. We’ve met with Sports Radar. We’ve met with a lot of entities, all that have different stakes in this sports betting thing.”