Governor Cuomo State of the State Address – Recreational Cannabis and On-line Sports Wagering on the Horizon

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo began his State of the State Address.  Unlike past years, he did not complete the speech in one session.  He had a follow up webcast this morning. The Governor plans to have several additional press conferences announcing the details of his budget plan and initiatives for 2021.  In the opening speech he listed seven priorities:

  • Defeat COVID
  • Vaccinate New York 
  • Manage Short Term Economic Crisis ($15 billion state deficit) 
  • Plan Economic Resurgence – reopen smartly and safely 
  • Shift to Green Energy
  • Understand Long Term Effects of COVID – capitalize on changes
  • Address Systemic Injustices

He also mentioned two important policy initiatives that can affect broadcast advertising.  First he announced that he would be moving forward with the legalization of recreational marijuana in New York. 

“The Governor is proposing the creation of a new Office of Cannabis Management to oversee a new adult-use cannabis program, as well as the State’s existing medical and cannabinoid hemp programs. Additionally, an equitable structure for the adult-use market will be created by offering licensing opportunities and assistance to entrepreneurs in communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. Cannabis legalization will create more than 60,000 new jobs, spurring $3.5 billion in economic activity and generating more than $300 million in tax revenue when fully implemented.”

We are working with the Governor’s office and legislative offices to make sure there are no unnecessary restrictions placed on cannabis advertisements. We understand the desire not to broadcast cannabis advertisements that are directed at children. NYSBA believes the current policies that are used by broadcasters for alcohol advertising would be appropriate.   

The second proposal concerns allowing on-line sports wagering.  However, the Governor’s plan differs considerably from other states, like New Jersey, that permit on-line sports wagering. 

“Under Governor Cuomo’s proposal, the New York State Gaming Commission will issue a request for proposals to select one or more providers to offer mobile sports wagering in New York. This platform must have a partnership with at least one of the existing licensed commercial casinos. The Commission will also require any entity operating mobile wagering apps include safeguards against abuses and addiction.”

Our concern is that the Governor’s plan would select only one entity to oversee sports wagering in New York.  This government sanctioned “monopoly” approach could significantly drive down revenues obtained from on-line sports wagering.  Moreover, the lack of competition could significantly depress advertising. Competition stimulates economic activity and will increase government revenues.  Stay tuned on this issue.  We will be working with the Governor’s office and the legislature to facilitate a competitive model for on-line sports wagering in New York.

To see the details of the Governors State of the State address click HERE.


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