ALBANY, N.Y. — For the second time in a week, a former New York Yankees manager was in Albany to push for legislation regulating sports betting now that the U.S. Supreme Court says states can allow legal wagering.
It was Hall of Famer Joe Torre's turn Monday. Torre was honored at an Italian-American event near the state Capitol, where state lawmakers took the opportunity to have their photograph taken with the manager who guided the Yankees to four World Series titles. The Legislature is considering imposing regulations on sports wagers, including who would be allowed to offer the betting.
Beforehand, Torre, a top executive for Major League Baseball, told reporters he was in Albany on behalf of the league to discuss the legalized sports-betting issue, which has emerged as a top legislative priority since the Supreme Court ruling May 14. The court struck down the federal law prohibiting most states from allowing wagering on athletic events.
"I'm not trying to lobby one side or another," said Torre, who also managed the Mets, Cardinals, Braves and Dodgers. "I just want you to take care of our game."
He's the second ex-Yankee manager in the past week to visit Albany to advocate for sports betting while voicing concern over the game's integrity. Joe Girardi was at the Capitol last Wednesday to talk to lawmakers on behalf of MLB.
"The law is coming so I think it's important for New York to be out in the forefront and get something passed that again, protects the integrity of the game this session," Girardi said.
Torre, 77, took a more cautious approach and seemed somewhat uncomfortable talking about something that has been strictly prohibited in his nearly 60 years affiliated with the major leagues.
"The fans trust us in baseball and I'd hate to jeopardize that. That's too important," said Torre, who played for three teams during an 18-year MLB career that began in 1960.
But with many states, including ones neighboring New York, expected to jump into legalized sports betting this year, the Brooklyn native said it was inevitable that his home state would follow suit.
"It's like the snowball rolling down a hill," he said. "You can't ignore it. It's there."
Accompanying Torre as he made the rounds at the Capitol was Morgan Sword, MLB's senior vice president for league economics and operations. Sword said MLB will seek an "integrity fee" of .25 percent on any wagers placed on its games to cover expected extra costs generated by legalized betting, including hiring more staff to monitor gambling data and investigate any improprieties.
While some New York lawmakers say legislation allowing legalized sports wagers can be in place by the Legislature's scheduled June 20 adjournment, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said the issue was too complicated to resolve by then.