New York sports betting enthusiasts got their wish on May 14th, 2018, when the Supreme Court decided to throw out the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Well, they sort of did, anyways. This is because, in 2013, New York Legislators enacted a law that expanded gambling within the state, opening up four private casinos. These casinos - Del Lago in Seneca County; Rivers Casino in Schenectady; Resorts World Catskills in Sullivan County; and Tioga Downs in Tioga County – were opened under the New York Gaming Economic Development Act. This law also gave the state the ability to offer sports betting at these four locations, should federal prohibitions ever be removed.
So you might be thinking - alright, now that PASPA has been repealed, sports betting in New York is going to be available pretty much immediately, right?
While New York seemed to be ahead of the game when it passed the New York Gaming Economic Development Act back in 2013, a closer look at the law shows us its true flaws – it’s extremely limited.
The 2013 law only allows for sports betting to be offered at four private casinos located in upstate New York. This would mean in-person betting is the only type of sports betting in New York. Mobile betting would not be legal, and sportsbooks would not be able to operate at any of the numerous racetracks or off-track betting locations throughout the state.
The language in the law is ambiguous enough that it is also questionable whether or not Native American Casinos would be able to offer sports betting, although many tribes – like the Oneida Indian Nation – insist that they are allowed to offer sports betting under the 2013 law.
The 2013 law gave regulatory authority to the State Gaming Commission. Because of this, the Gaming Act states that casinos would have to wait until the State Gaming Commission presented regulations for sports betting before they could open any sportsbooks. To be fair, New York Gaming Commission officials did go on the record in late May stating that they had begun work on creating those regulations. But we all know how long these things can take.
Now, before you get all sad, there is a small glimmer of hope - there is a bill on the floor currently that plans to expand sports betting in New York to include mobile and off-track betting. SB 7900 was introduced by Senator John Bonacic, who hopes to get the bill passed into law before the session ends. Proponents of SB 7900 are hoping that it will be passed and enacted in time for the 2018 football season.
The bill (S 7900) would open the option for mobile betting in the state, expanding gambling much further than just the four casinos that are allowed under the 2013 law. In order to participate in mobile betting, bettors would first have to register in person at one of the four casinos. After that, however, they would be able to bet from wherever they’d like using a mobile device.
It would also give New York racetracks and off-track betting venues the ability to partner with one of the four casinos in order to offer sports betting, giving residents more physical locations as sports betting options as well.
Unfortunately, the bill has a couple of big hurdles it needs to clear before it can become a law. The main problem right now is time – Session ends on June 20th, which is a very short amount of time for a bill to get passed through. It doesn’t help that the Senate seems to be split, with the Democratic majority leader and the Governor both voicing concerns on passing legislation too quickly.
Governor Andrew Cuomo even went so far as to tell reporters, “We’ll do an economic analysis and a legal analysis, but nothing’s going to happen this year because there’s literally just a number of days left in the legislative session and this would be a very big issue to tackle," when asked about whether or not sports betting would be available sometime in 2018. This proclamation does not bode well for getting New York sports betting up and running before the start of football.
Until the state government can get its act together, sports betting in New York looks like it might be a long time coming. The good news is that you still have a well-developed and safe sports betting option available to you through online, offshore sportsbooks. Which means that one way or another, you’ll be able to get those preseason football wagers in.