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Joe Girardi pitches N.Y. legislature on sports gambling

May 31, 2018, 9:32 am

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Sports Betting

Former Yankee calls for action before end of session

Joe Girardi wants New York's state legislators to take a swing at sports gambling.

The former New York Yankee player and manager came to the Capitol on behalf of Major League Baseball on Wednesday to advocate for a new state law regulating betting on sports. The door was opened to sports gambling in New York earlier this month when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law that limited the states where it had been allowed.

"I think it's important for New York to be out on the forefront and get something passed ... this session. I don't think we can wait," Girardi told reporters after speaking to Senate Republicans about the issue.

He also spoke with members of the Assembly Democratic Conference, including Speaker Carl E. Heastie, who announced earlier in the day that he isn't a big fan of gambling.

Girardi said his mission is to protect the integrity of baseball for everyone involved, including the fans. On the issue of allowing sports gambling while protecting the integrity of the game, he said, "That's for the legislators and the MLB and the casinos to work out. I wouldn't know where to begin."

New York first took a stab at addressing sports gambling with language tucked into a 2013 law authorizing full-scale casinos outside the boundaries of Native-American reservations. In the event that the federal restrictions were ever struck down, the law allows full-scale casinos to offer sports gambling under rules adopted by state regulators.

There are efforts in the Legislature to adopt a comprehensive regulatory framework before the scheduled end of the legislative session on June 20.

State Sen. John Bonacic, R-Orange County, has a bill that would allow NYRA, racinos and off-track betting corporations to partner with the four full-scale casinos to provide sports gambling. The bill also provides for internet gambling, establishes tax rates and creates a fee that would be paid to professional sports leagues.

Bonacic said the inclusion of an "integrity fee" is critical to garnering the support of sports leagues for the legislation, even though the New York Gaming Association, which represents some of the gambling interests in the state, has opposed it.

"This was a compromise to get everyone on board," he said.

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, D-Yonkers, said he would be introducing a similar bill this week.

Pretlow and Bonacic said they could work out any differences in their proposals.

"The problem I see, if any, is the governor's behavior," Bonacic said.

After the court ruling on gambling, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo argued there wasn't enough time left in the legislative session to pass comprehensive regulations this year. Bonacic rejected the idea, saying, "If there is a will to do it, it can be done."

Heastie said it would be up to his members to decide if the state Assembly will address the topic in the final 12 scheduled day of session.

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