Tioga Downs owner embraces call for mobile sports betting, differs on how to do it

New York News

NICHOLS, N.Y. (WETM/AP) — Tioga Downs owner Jeff Gural is on-board with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desire to legalize mobile sports betting, but he thinks there’s a way to help both the state and local casinos recoup from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the governor’s current plan, mobile sports betting would be run “the way the state runs the lottery where the state gets the revenues.”

“At a time when New York faces a historic budget deficit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the current online sports wagering structure incentivizes a large segment of New York residents to travel out of state to make online sports wagers or continue to patronize black markets,” the governor said. “New York has the potential to be the largest sports wagering market in the United States, and by legalizing online sports betting, we aim to keep millions of dollars in revenue here at home, which will only strengthen our ability to rebuild from the COVID-19 crisis.”

Gural says he understands that the state has lost money during the pandemic, but he wants to find a way to help the casinos who were closed for six months and the employees who were furloughed.

“I agree with the governor, we just got to figure out a plan how to maximize revenue for the state and at the same time help the upstate casinos.”

“Sports betting is very different from the lottery. The lottery you’re selling tickets, they’re all the same. So, if you want to buy a Powerball ticket in New York, if you want to buy a Powerball ticket in Pennsylvania it’s a dollar. There’s no great competition,” he said. “You need to have competition.”

Gural added that “if they were to run it through the lottery they would lose money.”

Gural says the state also needs to attract people who bet illegally or cross state borders to place mobile bets.

“Do you keep the status quo, which is either people have to drive to New Jersey or Pennsylvania to make a bet online, or they’re betting illegally? Or, you legalize it where you can tax it and regulate it?”

Gural estimates that the state could make up to $250 million in licensing fees and $150-$200 million in tax revenue. He plans to reach out to the governor and budget director Robert Mujica to discuss options for mobile sports betting.

Sara Slane, a gambling analyst and former official with the American Gaming Association, predicted earlier this week that New York quickly would become a top-tier state in the sports betting market.

“Gov. Cuomo’s embrace of mobile sports betting immediately positions New York to soon lead all other states and generate significant revenue for state coffers,” she said. “New York, with a population of nearly 20 million, dwarfs any other state with legal betting and should have no problem regularly topping $1 billion a month in wagers.”


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