New York’s Journey to Legal Sports Betting

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Since the Supreme Court’s repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), the federal ban on sports betting, several states have legalized sports betting. On 16 July, New York became the tenth state to offer some form of legal and regulated sports betting. 

The Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady became the first licensed venue in New York to offer sports betting. The same week, FanDuel, the daily fantasy sports provider turned sportsbook, announced it would be opening its sportsbook at the Tioga Downs casino in Nichols. So, how did New York get to where it is now?

Legal efforts

Although the Supreme Court repealed PASPA in 2018, the Empire State had been preparing for legal sports betting since 2013.

On 30 June 2013, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the New York Gaming Economic Development Act of 2013 into law. The law authorized the construction of seven commercial casinos in New York.

The 2013 legislation also stated that four casinos located in upstate New York would be cleared to offer on-site sports betting in the event that the federal ban on sports betting was overturned or amended. As per state regulations, New York’s tribal casinos would also be able to offer sports betting under this law.

This meant that New York was given the green light to begin preparations for sports betting following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn PASPA.

Several lawmakers, including Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr, introduced legislation that would expand the state’s gambling laws to include legal online and mobile betting. During New York’s 2018 legislative session, lawmakers introduced a mobile sports betting bill which ultimately failed to get support.

On 28 January 2019, the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGM) approved preliminary rules and regulations for sports betting. The regulations covered sports betting at the four upstate casinos and at tribal casinos in the state.

The four upstate casinos that can offer sports betting are: Del Lago Resort & Casino, Tioga Downs Casino, Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady and Resorts World Catskills.

New legislation would be required for sports betting to be allowed at racetracks, off track betting parlors, racinos. New York lawmakers are likely to try to bring legal betting to other venues in 2020.

Sports betting arrives in NY

After six years, legal and regulated sports betting finally came to New York on 16 July 2019. The Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady was the first New York venue to offer sports betting. Later on that same week, Tioga Downs held the opening ceremony for its FanDuel branded sportsbook.

Now it’s just a matter of time until sports betting goes live at the two remaining upstate venues – Del Lago Casino Resort and Resorts World Catskills. The Oneida Indian Nation expects to have sports betting up and running at its venues in time for the start of the 2019 football season.

No mobile betting

Several more attempts to bring online betting to New York were made during the 2019 legislative session, but all were unsuccessful. The main reason behind this is New York’s Governor Cuomo, who argued that mobile betting is “unconstitutional.” The latest effort came to an end on 20 June 2019 when the legislation died in the Assembly stages.

Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr, author of the online betting bill, said: “NY will be stuck like a disabled car on the shoulder, while we allow an illegal sports betting business in our state [to] thrive and idly watch other neighboring states pass us up with enormous revenue gains from mobile sports betting.”

In other states, mobile betting has proven to be one of the key components of a healthy sports betting market. In New Jersey, where state-wide mobile and online betting is legal, more than 80% of sports bets are placed using online devices. It’s also worth mentioning that about 25% of the bets placed in New Jersey are made by New Yorkers who travel across state lines to bet.

The decision not to legalize online or mobile sports wagering in New York is baffling. Not only does it reduce the amount of tax revenue for state projects, but it drives bettors towards illegal offshore sportsbooks that are not monitored by the state regulator. It also leaves punters with a smaller number of operators to choose from and doesn’t encourage a healthy or competitive business environment.

Lawmakers are likely to attempt to modernize the state’s sports betting laws and try to bring mobile betting to the Empire State in 2020.

Partnerships for sports betting

Since the 2013 law came into effect, several gambling companies have formed sports betting partnerships with casinos in New York. Here’s what the state’s sports betting landscape currently looks like:

  •   Del Lago Resort & Casino – DraftKings
  •   Tioga Downs Casino – FanDuel
  •   Resorts World Catskills – Bet365

The Rivers Casino in Schenectady is not included above as this venue has a Rivers-branded sportsbook.

Several big players in the gambling space have also partnered with New York’s tribes for sports betting. In July, The Stars Group, the owner and operator of PokerStars and BetStars, partnered with the Awkesasne Mohawk Casino Resort for land-based and online betting, once the state legalizes it.

In January, the casino giant Caesars announced a partnership with Oneida Indian Nation for sports betting. Under this agreement, Caesars branded sportsbooks will be constructed at the Turning Stone Resort Casino, Yellow Brick Road Casino and Point Place Casino.

It is almost a certainty that more partnerships will be made as the NY sports betting market opens up in the future.

What’s next for New York?

Now that New York has legal sports betting, it’s a matter of waiting to see what the figures look like. If the figures reflect an appetite for sports betting, it could help with efforts to bring sports betting to other gambling venues in the state.

With that being said, the next big task for New York is the legalization of online sports betting. Online and mobile betting can make or break a state’s sports betting industry.

Look at the figures coming out of Pennsylvania, for example. In the state’s first full month of online betting, $46m was bet on sports, the highest handle recorded by the state. Over 40% of these wagers were placed online. This figure is only going to get higher as more operators launch online betting in the state.

This is also reflected in West Virginia. Once the state launched online betting, both betting handle and revenue soared. But, since the only online betting site in the state has shut down (due to a legal dispute), the market has slumped. West Virginia has not come close to producing the numbers it did when it had online betting, highlighting just how integral online betting is.

If New York wishes to have a healthy sports betting market, it will need to introduce online and mobile betting.

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