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Lobbying on Sports Wagering in New York State in 2019

By Bennett Liebman

2019 was a remarkable year for sports wagering in New York State - not so much for what was actually accomplished - but for the amount of lobbying work done on behalf of sports wagering interests. Rarely, if ever have more organizations been involved in lobbying the legislature on gambling issues. The presumed gold rush for sports gambling has seen New York State casinos, mobile wagering firms, sports leagues, sports franchises, OTB's, racinos, out-of-state casinos, and Indian nations all actively involved in the sports wagering lobbying field. Furthermore, rarely have there been more coalitions developed with numerous lobbying firms working on behalf of an assortment of entities. (As an example, the Parkside Group lobbied for seven separate organizations involved with sports wagering.) It is possible that more money will be spent on sports wagering lobbying in New York in 2019 than will actually be won on sports wagering in 2019 at the four private casinos currently operating in New York.

This blog will detail the lists of lobbyists and who they worked for on the sports gambling front. There may be other entities, such as unions, other sports franchises, and game/lottery suppliers that were also involved in sports wagering issues, but this information is not easily obtainable from public filings.

Current Status of the Law

The sports wagering laws were unchanged in New York in 2019. In July, the four private upstate casinos began offering sports gambling at their facilities. The Oneida Nation is also offering sports gambling. The actual on-site wagering has been modest. Legislation expanding sports gambling to authorize mobile wagering and mobile wagering at affiliate locations (OTB's, racinos, and certain sports arenas) was passed by the Senate but failed to pass the Assembly. Governor Cuomo has suggested that a constitutional amendment might be necessary in order to enact mobile wagering.

Everybody wants a slice piece of the pie, and breaking down the contestants into categories yields the following results.

The Four Upstate Casinos

As a basic rule, the four upstate casinos want to make sure that sports wagering is conducted through them. They would support mobile wagering because it would greatly enhance their business and would likely be opposed to a constitutional amendment that would threaten their overall control over sports wagering.

1. Rivers Casino Schenectady - owned by Rush Street - Rush Street has its own mobile wagering operation in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania Self-lobbies

Dickinson and AvellaDonnelly LawShenker RussoState and Broadway

2. Resorts World Catskills - Empire Resorts self-lobbies

Albany Strategic AdvisorsFocus MediaGibson DunnIn addition, with Genting recently taking over full ownership of Empire Resorts, it is worth reviewing Genting's list of lobbyists.

3. del Lago -Self-lobbies.

Brown and WeinraubOstroff AssociatesParkside Group

4. Tioga Downs - Tioga is operated by real estate titan Jeff Gural, who also owns the racino at Vernon Downs and Meadowlands Race Track, in northern New Jersey which operates sports gambling. Sports wagering in downstate New York might affect sports wagering at the Meadowlands. Self-lobbies

99 SolutionsVidal Group

The Main Mobile Sports Wagering Firms

The sports wagering firms want mobile sports wagering.

1. FanDuel Self-lobbies.

Cordo and CompanyHinman StraubMLV StrategiesOrrick, Herrington & SutcliffeParkside GroupPatrick JenkinsRiddett Associates

2. DraftKings -Self lobbies.

Cordo and CompanyMLV StrategiesOrrick, Herrington & SutcliffeParkside GroupPatrick JenkinsRiddett Associates

Out-of-State Casino Firms

1. Caesars Entertainment -Caesars includes Caesars' Bally's, Harrah's and Horseshoe properties.

Bolton St. Johns

2. Las Vegas Sands - It is widely assumed that the Sands ownership would like to establish a casino in New York City.

Brown and WeinraubKivvitParkside Group

The Downstate Racinos

Both Yonkers Raceway (now owned by MGM) and Resorts World New York want not just to have sports gambling but to convert into full scale casinos.

1. Yonkers Raceway - MGM -Empire City. Self-lobbies

Capitol CommunicationsEmpire Strategic PlanningKasirerMalkin and RossStatewide Public AffairsVidal Group

2. Genting -Resorts World.Self-lobbies

Cordo and CompanyMetropolitan Public StrategiesPatrick JenkinsSKD KnickerbockerVidal Group

The Upstate Racinos

The upstate racinos do not wish to be left out of the rush to sports gambling. Delaware North has interests at both Finger Lakes and Buffalo Raceway. Batavia Downs is owned by Western OTB and will be listed here rather than under the OTB's. Vernon Downs is listed under the Tioga Downs casinos.

1. Saratoga Harness - Self-lobbies.

Featherstonhaugh, Wiley & ClynePatricia Lynch Associates

2. Batavia Downs

Mercury Public AffairsStrategic Development SpecialistsUpstate Strategic AdvisorsWladis Law Firm

3. New York Gaming Association - omnibus organization of the racinos plus Rivers Casino

Mike Kane

The OTB's

The OTB's similarly do not wish to be left out of the rush to sports gambling.

1. Nassau OTB

Dickinson and AvellaMark LiebermanPark Strategies

2. Suffolk OTB

MKBS ManagementLong Island Government Relations & Communications

3. Catskill OTB

Brown and Weinraub

4. Capital OTB

Jackson LewisPark Strategies

Professional Sports Leagues

They would like to see added revenue through an integrity fee, an ability to force sports wagering firms to use their own league data and the right to limit certain wagers that might impinge on the integrity of their contests.

1. Major League Baseball. Self-lobbies

Cordo and CompanyOrrick, Herrington & SutcliffeParkside GroupPatrick JenkinsRiddett AssociatesStanley K. Schlein

2. National Basketball Association. Self-lobbies

Cordo and CompanyOrrick, Herrington & SutcliffeParkside GroupPatrick JenkinsRiddett AssociatesStanley K. Schlein

3. PGA Tour

Cordo and CompanyOrrick, Herrington & SutcliffeParkside GroupPatrick JenkinsRiddett AssociatesStanley K. Schlein

Sports Franchises

While they all have individual issues, they would want to see sports wagering at their facilities.

1. Madison Square Garden - Rangers and Knicks

Albany Strategic AdvisorsCozen O'ConnorJenner & BlockKasirer

2. Buffalo Bills and Sabres - Pegula Interests

Ostroff Associates

3. New York Yankees.Self-lobbies

Dickinson and AvellaPitta Bishop & Del Giorno

4. New York Nets - now under new ownership - Self- lobbies.

Davidoff Hutcher & CitronRed Land StrategyResi Cooper

The Indian Nations

The tribes with casinos have significant interests at stake. They may wish to protect their gambling market exclusivity, or they may wish to trade their exclusivity for an opportunity to conduct mobile sports wagering and/or to reduce their exclusivity fees to the state.

1. Seneca Nation

Masiello Martucci CalabreseHinman Straub

2. Oneida Indian Nation

Mirram GroupRoffe Group

3. Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe

Bolton St. Johns


1. New York Racing Association - needs to be a part of the sports wagering market. Self-lobbies

Bolton St. JohnsRoffe Group

2. Sportradar US - firm dealing with integrity issues in sports wagering

Bolton St. Johns

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