WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Governor Andrew Cuomo will make another push to legalize recreational marijuana and roll out a plan for online sports wagering. But, some north country officials say it shouldn’t happen.
Faced with a revenue shortfall amounting to tens of billions of dollars, Governor Cuomo sees legalized marijuana and online sports betting as ways to make back some of the cash lost to the pandemic.
“We want to do sports betting the way the state runs the lottery...where the state gets the revenues. And then recreational marijuana, I think this should’ve been passed years ago. I think too many people have been imprisoned and incarcerated and punished,” he said.
Cuomo says the state gaming commission will select a sports operator or platform to offer mobile sports betting.
That operator must have a partnership with a commercial casino.
But, a New York gambling expert says Cuomo’s plan comes with great risks.
“Individuals that may already be struggling with gambling, now they have the opportunity to essentially do it from the comfort of their home and 24/7,” said Jonathan Crandall, project manager, Central New York Problem Gambling Resource Center.
As for marijuana, Cuomo says he will create a new Office of Cannabis Management to oversee the program. Once implemented, it is expected to generate more than $300 million in tax revenue.
PIVOT program director Anita Seefried-Brown says it’s still a bad idea.
“Any time we make a drug more accessible, the use of that drug will increase exponentially,” she said.
Assemblymen Mark Walczyk (R. - 116th District) also opposes the plan to legalize marijuana.
“In the past, I’ve expressed concern about the message we’re sending to our youth: ‘It’s bad to pick up a cigarette, but it’s okay to smoke marijuana because it helps with the budget deficit,’” he said in a statement.
The governor will continue to work through the weekend on these new proposals in preparation for his State of the State Address next Monday.