New York Gambling Expansion Study Set To Kickoff In December

Written By Derek Helling on November 22, 2019 - Last Updated on March 11, 2021
New York gambling expansion study set for kickoff

If online sports betting and iGaming ever come to the Empire State, it will require legislators feeling confident about their proposals. A gambling expansion study set to proceed in New York aims to provide that confidence.

The New York State Gaming Commission has now chosen a firm to conduct the study. With that decision made, the commission awaits a report on the findings.

Who is doing the gambling expansion study and why

The commission chose the Spectrum Gaming Group, a research firm whose United States headquarters is in Pennsylvania. The study should begin on Dec. 1.

As the state considers its position on gambling law, information is vital. In order for a gambling expansion proponent like state Sen. Joseph Addabbo to push his agenda, he will need facts to show why expansion is not only beneficial but necessary.

The sooner results are published, the better for gambling expansion advocates. Having the results in the near future would give Addabbo more time to present his case. It would also augment the chances that any necessary legislation will be enacted next year.

Spectrum has until April 1, 2020, to submit its findings though. Taking the full time allowed could significantly decrease the likelihood that the Legislature will take any action on the results during the next session.

Potential results could point toward a much more lucrative future for the gambling industry in the Empire State. The study’s scope will determine how bright that future will be, however.

What Spectrum will be looking at over the coming months

Spectrum is charged with producing findings on the feasibility of expanding legal sports betting in New York. The study will present models for the future based on three possibilities:

  • Keeping legal sports wagering limited to commercial casinos
  • Allowing off-track betting facilities and video lottery terminals in on the action
  • Allowing mobile/online sportsbooks to accept bets in the Empire State

It’s possible the study could include other facets of gambling as well. These might include new casinos and internet and video lottery games, along with online poker, slots and table games.

One key thing for New Yorkers to note is that Spectrum will conduct the study under an assumption that the state has already amended its constitution to allow for these various types of gambling. That specific set of circumstances has been a big issue.

Why the assumption of an amendment is significant

Perhaps the biggest reason why there’s no legal online sports betting in New York now is because of constitutional concerns. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has expressed several times his stance that an amendment would be necessary for all/any gambling expansion.

Even if the state’s Legislature and Cuomo were to get on board with mobile legalization without an accompanying amendment, such a law might see an immediate challenge. New York’s commercial casinos could sue Cuomo on the issue of online betting.

They would argue that because they had to wait for an amendment to begin operations in the state, the same should apply to online sportsbooks. We’ve seen this in a lawsuit challenging the legality of daily fantasy sports, for example.

Because of that threat, many legislators could shy away from gambling expansion laws independent of an amendment. While an amendment would prevent such lawsuits, it would also likely delay legalization by years.

It isn’t uncommon for firms to share updates as such studies are ongoing, but the final results will be what could create movement in Albany. The data that will be of most interest will be Spectrum’s findings on mobile sports betting, as that’s where the action is.

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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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