Sides still at odds on mobile sports bets

Buttenschon, Oneida Nation say proposal continues to exclude swath of upstate, jeopardize agreements

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In another layer of discussion surrounding a 10-county region’s ability to participate in mobile sports betting, state Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon, D-119, Marcy, joined with several fellow Democrat lawmakers in writing a letter to state leaders — while the Oneida Indian Nation, which proposed a compromise on the matter, is casting legal doubts about the state’s latest proposal.

The state’s proposed 2021-22 executive budget includes adoption of mobile sports betting as a mechanism to increase state revenues.

Buttenschon’s letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie, and Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, requests that the legalization of mobile sports betting proposals honor settlement agreements with the Oneida and Seneca Nations to ensure that all state residents can participate in mobile sports betting.

The letter outlines the loss of gaming payments to New York State and counties, as well as significant tax increases and the loss of thousands of jobs across Central and Western New York, according to a release.

“As we seek to complete the 2021-2022 New York State budget, we are requesting that any proposal to legalize mobile sports betting honor settlement agreements with the Oneida and Seneca Nations to ensure that all New York residents can participate in mobile sports betting...it is concerning that the proposal currently under consideration may result in residents of Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Erie, Herkimer, Lewis, Madison, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego and Otsego being unable to participate in and benefit from mobile sports betting legalization,” a portion of the letter states.

The letter continues, “The Oneida Nation has already expressed its concerns that the current proposal under review would be a violation of its historic settlement agreement. This proposed breach could result in a loss of $70 million in gaming payments to the state and to the counties, as well as, tax increases and the loss of thousands of jobs across Central New York…”

The Oneida Nation weighed in with a Tuesday statement, “The Oneida Indian Nation offered a compromise on mobile sports betting that addressed all issues related to its exclusivity. This compromise was approved by the State Senate and Assembly, and supported by Indian and commercial casinos in New York. It appears that the State nevertheless is rejecting that compromise. We will review the final language, but we have serious legal doubts about this legislation and the impact it will have on Central New York. We regret that the State is not trying to resolve these issues cooperatively, and we remain open to discussing an outcome that works for the State, the Nation and our entire region.”

Among recent bipartisan outcry over the idea, state Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, along with Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. and Onondaga County Executive J. Ryan McMahon II are campaigning for the measure to be axed.

“If the budget proposal were to be enacted, anyone living in these 10 counties would be prohibited from participating in mobile sports betting … Cutting out major parts of upstate New York from participating in mobile betting is terrible public policy and would be unfair to these residents … If tribal nations are not incorporated into the state’s final bill, we would potentially be disenfranchising millions of New Yorkers from participating in mobile sports betting and from the economic benefits it generates,” Griffo said previously.

“...Excluding large parts of Upstate New York from participating in mobile sports betting is not acceptable … Our region, which consists of two of the 10 largest cities in New York State – Syracuse and Utica – would not be able to participate in mobile sports betting if the Oneida Indian Nation is not included in the legislation…,” Picente and McMahon said jointly in a Friday statement.

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