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Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says he’s hesitant to expand sports gambling laws

June 2, 2018
Heastie’s comments come in the wake of a Supreme Court decision earlier this month that struck down a federal ban that had prevented New York and other states beyond Nevada from offering sports gambling. (Susan Watts/New York Daily News)

ALBANY — Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie isn’t ready to roll the dice yet on expanded sports gambling in New York.

Heastie (D-Bronx) told reporters Wednesday he intends to discuss the issue with members of the Assembly’s ruling Democratic majority but also made it clear he’s “not a big fan” of gambling.

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“I am not a big fan of gambling but again it’s legal here in the state,” Heastie said. “The members will decide.”

Heastie’s comments come in the wake of a Supreme Court decision earlier this month that struck down a federal ban that had prevented New York and other states beyond Nevada from offering sports gambling.

Under existing state law, New York’s four commercial casinos can begin offering on-site sports gambling as soon as the Gaming Commission gives the OK, but lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow them to offer online platforms and other ways to take bets.

Gambling interests and sports leagues — who, under the proposed legislation would receive a percentage of the state’s revenue — have been pressing lawmakers to act before the Legislature’s session ends in late June.

“I am here encouraging the New York legislators to pass a law that basically protects the integrity of the game,” said former New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who visited the Capitol Wednesday on behalf of Major League Baseball and stressed the need for tight controls on sports betting.

Supporters of expanded sports gambling argue it is already taking place illegally in New York and that it would be better for the state to legalize and regulate the industry so as to better protect consumers and the sports leagues — while also garnering millions of dollars in added revenue for the state annually.

Gov. Cuomo, however, has said it is unlikely there’s enough time left in the Legislature’s session to address the issue.

“I think (Cuomo’s) more concerned with politics than actually spending time on public policy,” said state Sen. John Bonacic (R-Orange County), head of the Senate’s Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering.

Bonacic said he was confident the Legislature will approve gaming legislation before the session ends. “If there is a will to do it, it will get done,” he said.

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