Frankly, I’d prefer not to make these bets at all. And even if I did, I’d rather make them from my couch.
But it’s not so much about the bets themselves as it is the cause.
Due to state regulations, New Yorkers can’t bet on NY college basketball teams. And no, despite its close proximity, you can’t bet on NJ college basketball teams in New Jersey either.
Therefore, what should be an unnecessary hassle of a commute is in order.
Wanna bet NY college hoops? Head to NJ
So on Monday night, I made the trek from New York to New Jersey to put a couple bucks on Syracuse (15-16, 9-11 ACC) and St. John’s (16-14, 8-11 Big East) to win their respective conference tournaments. Both teams played their opening-round games on Wednesday in the Big Apple — the Orange at Barclays Center, the Red Storm at Madison Square Garden (often their home when facing significant opponents).
Chances are, I’m going 0-for-2 on these virtual tickets.
“The intent was in an effort to protect New York college athletes from outside influences,” Sen. Joe Addabbo told me back in November (legal online sports betting launched in NY on Jan. 8).
As per the NCAA Sport Science Institute:
To protect the integrity of college athletics contests, NCAA regulations prohibit student-athletes from betting money on any sporting event (college, professional or otherwise) in which the NCAA conducts collegiate championships. Violations of this regulation can result in a student-athlete losing his or her athletics eligibility, which has clear negative repercussions for the individual and his or her team.
“You can bet on games taking place in New York, but not on New York teams, including when they’re in a bracket,” Addabbo said.
The arduous journey of NY college basketball betting
It was 65 degrees in early March, which made about as much sense as this whole online NCAA basketball betting process in NY/NJ. What should’ve taken 90 seconds took 90 minutes. I left my apartment at 6:20 p.m. and was back by 7:50.
The trip: Walk to 51st St. Station (which has now been overtaken by BetMGM advertising) —> E Train Downtown to W. 4th St. —> Walk to 9th St. PATH —> JSQ PATH to Grove St. (which has now been overtaken by Superbook advertising) —> Wager via Bet365 (download and deposit before I left) —> PATH to WTC —> 4 Train Uptown from Fulton St. to Grand Central —> 6 Train Uptown to 51st St. Station.
And yes, I obviously encountered this message on Bet365 — only available in NJ after not being selected for NY sports betting licensing — along the way:
We have detected that you are attempting to wager outside the State of New Jersey.
This conduit is in violation of New Jersey state law N.J.S.A. 5-12-95.23a. You should immediately cease and desist from attempting to wager outside of New Jersey. We have retained your user information and future attempts could result in an enforcement action.
New York bettors certainly used to this rigmarole
Of course, many New Yorkers are very used to this sports betting commute. New Jersey has had online sports betting since August 2018. So bridge and tunnel trips are nothing new. GeoComply traffic volume has been incredibly high at places like the Hoboken and (multiple) Jersey City PATH stations. But for NY bettors, these commutes shouldn’t be necessary any longer.
Maybe if the state-to-state access wasn’t so easy, it would make more sense. Actually, maybe not. But hopefully, eventually, the regulations will be amended. There’s no reason it should be this difficult. There’s no reason for NY bettors to have to go across the Hudson River or onto the grey market via illegal/offshore operators or bookies to make their NCAA college basketball wagers. Especially with the NCAA tournament held in New York this year, with March Madness betting making its online debut in the Empire State.
(And, hopefully, New Yorkers will be able to bet on player award futures like MVP, Cy Young, Heisman, etc., at some point as well).
“This issue is a fraction of the totality of mobile sports betting, but it’s something to keep an eye on,” Addabbo told me at the time. “(Some policies) start with good intentions, but we’ll see. If we’ve missed the mark on something, the legislature has to stay ready to correct it or improve it.
“I’m always thinking about the next step. I think that’s what the market dictates. You’ve go to be competitive, and again, New York has to play catchup, so you look at what other states are doing and say, Ok, we’ve got to do this.’”
At least Addabbo is open to a change. Let’s just hope it actually happens by next year.