Technically, the activity is already legal for the four NY commercial casinos. The 2013 voter referendum authorizing those casinos also included provisions for sports betting, pending a change in federal law.
That change came in May 2018 when the US Supreme Court overturned a prohibition that had stood since 1992.
No legal hurdles remain for those four properties, but the path to market isn’t clear. Lawmakers intend to broaden the provisions with an updated law, and the NYS Gaming Commission has yet to move forward with regulations.
With the statehouse adjourned for the year, it’s hard to pin down a timeline for the launch of NY sports betting.
New York legislators consider legal sports betting
Lawmakers have considered standalone NY sports betting bills in each session dating back to 2009. The diligence and sense of urgency has escalated in recent years, but efforts continue to stumble.
The current proposals come from the chairmen of the gaming committees in each chamber — Assemblyman Gary Pretlow and Sen. John Bonacic. Each is spearheading efforts to expand sports betting to racetracks, OTBs, and tribal casinos under partnerships with the commercial properties.
In the eleventh hour, an old referendum sports betting bill was also rekindled by Sen. Tony Avella. Prospects for passage disappeared when the NY legislature ended its session on June 20.
Legal climate for NY sports betting
Until recently, Nevada was the only state with fully legal sports betting.
The US Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 1992, which essentially froze existing laws in time. Nevada was allowed to keep doing its thing, while other states were prohibited from legalizing or regulating sports betting in perpetuity.
Decades later, New Jersey became discontent with the prohibition and challenged it with a new law. What followed was a years-long legal battle against five sports leagues and the Department of Justice, escalating all the way to the US Supreme Court.
On May 14, 2018, the court ruled 6-3 that PASPA was unconstitutional, striking the ban down in full. States are now free to legalize (or prohibit) sports betting independently, without federal interference.
A few are already taking advantage of the opportunity. New Jersey and Delaware have since launched their own sports betting industries, and Pennsylvania and West Virginia are among those poised to join in short order.
Opportunity is knocking for New York, too, but nobody seems to be home right now.
Where will I bet on sports in NY?
Presumably, the NY sports betting market would start with the four commercial casinos. They’re the only venues already approved to take wagers by law. Even though no bill passed in 2018, Pretlow expects in-person sports wagering at the four commercial casinos sometime in 2018.
- Tioga Downs – Located in Nichols, Tioga Downs was the first to open in December 2016.
- del Lago Resort & Casino – Located in Waterloo, del Lago opened in February 2017.
- Rivers Casino and Resort – Located in Schenectady, Rivers also opened in February 2017.
- Resorts World Catskills – Located in Monticello, Resorts is expected to open in the summer of 2018.
Lawmakers are working to extend sports betting to other NY gambling stakeholders, however, including racetracks, racinos, off-track betting parlors, and Native American tribal casinos.
All efforts to expand the existing law have come up short so far.
Will mobile/internet sports betting be available in NY?
Probably, but it’s too soon to tell.
As written, the existing law doesn’t say much about mobile/internet sports betting. It simply directs the commission to promulgate rules appropriate for the industry. Without many other stipulations, regulators have a lot of control over the specifics of implementation.
It’s not clear if the group will authorize mobile/internet wagering, but it’d be fair to assume they will. The state has an existing online horse betting industry, and remote betting in nearby states provides incentive to keep pace. It’d be a disaster if NY residents were ducking across the border to make legal, mobile wagers in PA or NJ.
For now, there will be no mobile wagering at the commercial casinos. There will only be in-person betting.
How big is the NY sports betting market?
The American Gaming Association estimates Americans bet $154 billion on sports in 2016. It also claims nearly all of it was wagered through illegal channels, like personal bookies and offshore websites.
Broken down by population, that means New York’s 19.75 million residents bet around $9.38 billion on sports in 2016.
Daily fantasy sports in New York
Daily fantasy sports is legal and regulated in New York.
On Aug. 3, 2016, the state enacted a law that allows DFS sites to serve the New York population. Major operators like DraftKings and FanDuel had previously been forced to abandon the state under an order from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
A 2017 report from the NYS Gaming Commission showed DFS operators generated $18,621,700 in gross gaming revenue in New York from September 2016 through January 2017. That represents an average of $3,724,340 each month since the law was enacted.
The state collected 15 percent, or a total of $2,796,182, in taxes from DFS operators during that period.
Extrapolated estimates would put annual DFS revenues in New York at $44.6 million per year with taxes around $6.7 million.
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