Online Sports Betting Among Failed Bills in New York

New York lawmakers wrapped up their 2019 legislative session June 24, as more than a dozen bills that would affect the horse racing industry died in one or both houses of the Legislature.


A last-minute bid by some lawmakers and gambling interests to legalize online sports betting fell apart, as did a measure to create a new state panel to track the whereabouts and treatment of retired racehorses.


Nearly 1,000 "same as" bills passed the Legislature at the state Capitol since January. But lawmakers in the two houses did not come together on a host of racing-related measures, including one plan to require a continuing education-like program for Thoroughbred trainers.


Legislation to have New York State join the Mid-Atlantic Interstate Equine Drug Testing Compact also did not see final enactment in the Legislature.


The bill attracting the most attention—and lobbyists retained by casinos, gambling industry suppliers, racing interests, and others—was the online sports betting measure. Supporters said the measure would bring additional tax revenues to the state, provide additional ways for bettors to legally make wagers on sports contests, and keep money from flowing to off-shore companies and states that have legalized sports betting, such as neighboring New Jersey.


The bill was spawned by the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last year that lifted a federal ban on sports betting. Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, the bill's sponsor and the chairman of the Assembly's racing and wagering committee, on the last night of session made a play to convince lawmakers in the Cuomo administration to support the measure.


"I'm trying,'' Pretlow said that night.


But Gov. Andrew Cuomo, along with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, said there were serious state constitutional flaws with the approach to permit bets to be made via the internet. The state recently moved ahead with plans to permit sports betting, but only through in-person bets made at four commercial casinos and Indian-owned casinos.


The retired racehorse welfare bill, proposed by Sen. Joseph Addabbo, head of the Senate's racing, wagering and gaming committee, did not advance. It would have created a state commission in 2020 to report on the whereabouts and condition of retired racehorses.


The bill's legislative intent was meant to "ensure the proper treatment of the horses following their racing career and to further prevent the illegal transport of horses to slaughterhouses.'' Pretlow sponsored a similar bill in the Assembly.


The Mid-Atlantic equine drug compact bill, which passed the Senate, was also proposed earlier this year by Cuomo. It did not make it among the bills getting final approval last week.


"One of the things we have strived for on a regional basis ... is to ensure that there are processes to ensure regulations, penalties, thresholds, etc., are as consistent as they can be to make barriers for horsemen moving from one jurisdiction to another as reduced as we can,'' Robert Williams, the state Gaming Commission executive director, said in an interview last month. "The Mid-Atlantic Compact would help advance that cause by allowing a more streamlined process for many of the states that have difficulty in navigating their legislative or regulatory hurdles in achieving those types of goals.''


For the third straight year, the Senate passed a measure to make permanent in law—instead of through a Gaming Commission rule—the existence of a racing fan advisory group to make recommendations to the state and industry on ways to "improve the sport of horse racing from the viewpoint of racing fans.''

For the third straight year, the idea died in the Assembly.

A bill to drive more here money from video lottery terminal revenues to programs to improve the condition of Aqueduct Racetrack also did not advance.

Also, a measure by Addabbo—banning the use of any performance enhancing drug, including Lasix—gained no momentum after its introduction in the beginning of the year.

Another not passed: a plan by both Pretlow and Addabbo to reverse a decision earlier this year by a state education board requiring that electromagnetic field therapy be done either by a veterinarian or by a technician under the direct supervision of a veterinarian.


In May, the two lawmakers had a "same as" bill on the issue pending before the two houses. By the third week in June, however, an amendment was made to one of the bills. Neither version ended up passing.

"This bill is designed to ... reduce the potential for animal cruelty by allowing better access to care for racehorses by clarifying that the practice of electromagnetic field therapy does not fall with (in) the purview of veterinary medicine. Additionally, this bill will align New York's veterinarian medicine statutory framework with other states that have significant equine industries,'' the two lawmakers wrote in a memorandum in May.


A last-minute push to require owners and trainers to take an online course regarding "the responsible and humane retirement of horses" also did not get final passage when the Legislature ended its 2019 session last Friday. Two lawmakers had proposed that such training be a condition for being able to hold a license to participate in the horse racing industry in New York.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *