If PASPA Gets Overturned, Where Does NY Stand On Sports Betting?

Written By Jessica Welman on November 17, 2017 - Last Updated on November 30, 2022
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[toc]Dec. 4 is almost here. That day is the day the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in the case pitting the state of New Jersey and the major sports league against one another.

It is a case that will determine the future of sports betting in this country. At the heart of the matter is the legality of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). The law exempts Nevada and a handful of other states, outlawing sports betting everywhere else.

Should the court case go New Jersey’s way, it opens the door for wagering across the country. New York could very well be one of states printing tickets.

Lawmakers looking into a voter referendum on sports betting

In 2013, New York state ran a voter referendum on whether or not to open NY commercial casinos upstate. That resulted in the new casinos that opened earlier this year.

Now, lawmakers are looking into a similar measure to prepare the Empire State to act if PASPA is overturned. The state Assembly’s Racing and Wagering committee chair Gary Pretlow told the Albany Times-Union the legal team was evaluating the options.

Should the state try the voter referendum route, it would take two years to go into effect. Meanwhile, the legistlature introduced two new bills earlier this year. Additionally, Sen. John Bonacic, who is online poker’s strongest supporter in Albany, is also exploring the financial benefits of legal sports betting.

However, there is already an existing sports betting law on the books.

Sports betting part of 2013 casino referendum

When voters agreed to allow upstate casinos in 2013, they also voted in favor of a framework for sports betting. As Gambling Compliance noted a couple of years ago, the referendum allows for the issuance of five-year licenses to casinos to accept sports wagers.

The referendum sets up the framework for casino sports wagering at commercial casinos like del Lago and Rivers. Those are far from the only gambling institutions in the Empire State though.

New laws necessary for tribes, racetracks to get a piece of the action

In addition to commercial casinos, New York is also home to tribal casinos, racinos, and racetracks. With live racing revenue waning , leadership in that industry is worried about their position should the Supreme Court rule in favor of sports betting.

It is a justifiable fear given that there is no law in place allowing them to compete. Even if the state passed a law allowing tracks to participate in 2018, the casinos would have a massive head start and, likely, a massive market share.

As for tribes, that is an issue few are talking about.

Several states besides New York are dealing with similar issues. For example, California tribes are currently sparring with lawmakers about what kind of piece of the action they will get.

Unlike California, tribal gaming in New York is not quite as powerful. Nonetheless it could be interesting to see if sports betting comes up in the ongoing negotiations between Seneca Nation and New York over the tribe’s cessation of payments from its tribal casino properties.

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Jessica Welman

Jessica Welman is a longtime member of the poker media. She has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and served as the Managing Editor for WSOP.com. A graduate of the University of Southern California and Indiana University, Welman is not only a writer but also a producer. She has been involved for livestreams for the WSOP and WPT and worked as a consultant on many other poker productions. She can be found on Twitter @jesswelman.

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