With Cuomo’s Signature, Online Sportsbooks Are Now Legal, But Months From Live

Written By Derek Helling on April 19, 2021 - Last Updated on April 20, 2021

What amounted to a mere formality became formal on Monday in regards to mobile sports betting in New York. NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the budget bill that contains the provision legalizing online wagering on sporting events.

With the legislation now final, gambling regulators in the Empire State can get to work.

NY online sports betting legal, but far from live

With Cuomo’s signature, there is now a framework for regulated online sports wagering in NY. That doesn’t mean New Yorkers will be able to curtail their trips to New Jersey overnight, though.

The work, in many ways, has only just begun. The NY State Gaming Commission now has a tall task ahead of it. It gets to determine processes and draft regulations. A starting point for that will be proposals for what the law calls “platform providers.”

One of the tasks now upon the NYSGC is defining exactly what that term means. It must have criteria out for proposals for eligible entities to become one of two platform providers by July 1. The law requires the commission to keep that supplication process open for 30 days.

At the end of July, the NYSGC can start considering the proposals. It has up to 150 days to decide which two applicants will get the two licenses. While it’s not yet clear exactly how the commission will make those determinations, NY Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. gave some insight into his perspective.

“There are [sic] the criteria, though, that we have to consider: the criteria of speed to market, the expertise, the business that these providers may have done with other states, the ability to handle [the] volume, the ability to work with New York,” Addabbo commented. “So I think these other criteria sort of narrow maybe the scope of these possible bidders.”

Addabbo says he hopes to have online sportsbooks up and running by Super Bowl LVI in February 2022. That’s realistic if everything goes smoothly. There’s no guarantee that will be the case, though.

Challenges ahead for implementing the law

Among potential challenges are literal legal challenges. The state’s tribal casino operators might challenge the law in court, arguing it violates the exclusivity zones in their gaming compacts. Commercial casino operators might follow suit with their own suits too.

The law effectively makes them “landlords” for servers that the online sportsbooks in NY will run on. Although they will collect fees for providing the service, casino operators might sue Cuomo to try to secure a bigger slice of the pie.

Then there’s simply the matter of the NYSGC trying to adjudicate the law. Interpreting the language, some of which is original to NY, could prove tricky. Because it’s unique to the state, there’s little precedent from other markets for regulators to draw from.

Barring any successful court challenges, the legality of mobile sports betting in NY is now settled. Involved parties in the state now get to answer the many questions about what it will look like and how soon it will arrive.

Photo by Albund | Dreamstime.com
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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