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Ex-Yankee Girardi tells NY lawmakers to act quickly on sports betting

Joe Torre, MLB’s chief baseball officer, is set to make a similar push next week, lobbyists said.

Former New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi at

Former New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 8, 2016. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

ALBANY — Former Yankees manager Joe Girardi ventured to the State Capitol on Wednesday to urge lawmakers to adopt sports-betting regulations before they adjourn.

Sports betting “is coming,” Girardi said, referring to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that cleared the way for states to legalize it, and New York should get in front of the issue instead of waiting. The current legislative session is set to end June 20.

“So I think it’s important for New York to be at the forefront and get something passed that protects the integrity of the game — this session,” Girardi said in a very brief meeting with reporters after he addressed Senate Republicans in a closed-door conference. Girardi appeared as a representative of MLB Network, the TV arm of Major League Baseball, a Senate official said.

An MLB spokesman later emphasized that Girardi isn’t advocating for sports betting but, in the increasing likelihood of its legalization, for a regulatory framework that protects baseball and its fans.

Joe Torre, MLB’s chief baseball officer, is set to make a similar push next week, lobbyists said.

The effort comes after the U.S. Supreme Court this month struck down a law that bans gambling on sporting events in most states, giving New York and others the go-ahead to legalize betting on football, basketball, baseball and other sports. The decision stemmed from a lawsuit by the New Jersey state government seeking to overturn the ban.

The ruling has sent lawmakers rushing to draft legislation to create state regulations in the short time they have left in Albany this session. But at the same time, the major sports leagues are urging Congress to pass a law, saying they would favor one national framework over having 50 different state laws.

Sen. John Bonacic (R-Mt. Hope), chairman of the Senate Racing and Wagering Committee, said Wednesday that he was working with his Assembly counterpart to craft legislation, but added that the two houses haven’t talked with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who has suggested there isn’t enough time left in the session for any major agreements.

Girardi, the former manager of the Yankees and Marlins and ex-big-league-catcher for four teams, including the Yankees, also talked to several members of the state Assembly and posed for photographs, but wasn’t scheduled to address the full Assembly.

Girardi is the second New York sports figure to journey to Albany to urge lawmakers to act on sports betting. Previously, former Knick John Starks appeared on behalf of Madison Square Garden.

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