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New bill proposes to legalize sports betting in NY

Sen. Bonacic’s bill would allow betting on professional and college sports, but only at 4 upstate casinos.

Sen. John Bonacic (R-Mount Hope), speaks at the

Sen. John Bonacic (R-Mount Hope), speaks at the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, in Albany, N.Y. Photo Credit: AP / Mike Groll

ALBANY — A key senator accelerated his push to legalize sports betting in New York by formally introducing a bill Thursday that would allow it — but only at upstate casinos.

State Sen. John Bonacic (R-Mount Hope), chairman of the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, proposed permitting betting on professional and college sports, with casinos giving the state 8.5 percent of gross revenue, which could bring in $10 million to $30 million annually to state coffers.

The legalization, he noted, hinges on how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a bid by New Jersey to overturn a federal ban on sports betting that applies to all but a few states such as Nevada.

Bonacic said New York is behind New Jersey and others in preparing for what he thinks will be the eventual legalization of sports betting.

“New York State has historically been behind the curve in dealing with developments in the gaming world, and it has been to our detriment,” Bonacic said in a statement. “If allowed, sports betting will be a revenue enhancer for education in New York. We have the chance to ensure our sports betting statute is fully developed and addresses the needs of the state and all stakeholders so we can hit the ground running if and when we can authorize and regulate sports betting.”

Bonacic conducted a hearing in January in which an NBA official said the league preferred a federal regulatory scheme for sports betting. The NBA also wants gambling operators to pay the league a 1 percent cut of the total amount bet on its games.

Horse racing tracks also asked to be included in any regulatory schemes in New York. But Bonacic’s bill leaves them out. His measure would permit sports betting at four new upstate casinos, located in Schenectady, Nichols, Tyre and Monticello.

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