Current Sports Betting Status: Legal but not yet operational
In 2013, long before the current sports betting expansion, New York passed the New York Gaming Economic Development Act. The law authorized the development of four casinos each of which is allowed to conduct sports betting—subject to it being legal under federal law.
So when the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May 2018, New York was ready to go. Except it hasn’t.
To date none of the four casinos have launched sports betting, even though neighboring New Jersey took its first sports bets in June 2018.
Governor Andrew Cuomo appears to be holding up authorization. There is an outstanding dispute between the New York tribal casinos and the state about how much gambling tax payment is owed. As soon as this issue is resolved, sports betting is expected to start.
The regulator will be the New York State Gaming Commission and it almost certainly has regulations ready to go. In May 2018, Acting Executive Director Ron Ochyrm said:
“Commission staff has long been working on regulations that would effectuate sports gambling under the existing statutory language. Staff anticipates being able to provide a draft for your review in the near term.”
New York state legislature may pass new laws in 2019
The state legislature remains undecided as to whether to pass new legislation on sports betting. Last year there was a debate over whether the sports leagues should receive an “integrity fee.” The fee is supposed to compensate the leagues for additional measures they may take to ensure fair games. In reality, it’s more of an attempt to grab a piece of the pie.
The other issue that is important is that of mobile and online sports betting. The current legislation restricts casinos to live sports betting on the premises. Since most sports betting around the world and in the U.S. is now conducted online, which could become an issue.
New York has online sports betting for horse racing, so in principle there should be no objection. But of course that’s not how state politics works.
The New York state constitution is a problem
To enable legislation to allow sports betting, New York would need to do one of two things:
- Pass a constitutional amendment which would delay online sports betting until 2021 at the earliest.
- Or designate sports betting as a game of skill, evading the constitutional provisions against gambling.
The second option is not entirely out of the question. On January 9, 2019, state senator Joseph Addabbo filed SB18 which aims to legalize online poker. The bill defines poker as a game of skill to avoid the need for a constitutional amendment.
New York also has legal online Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS). The law to enable DFS also defined the activity as a game of skill. This is currently the subject of a legal challenge going through the NY court system.
In France, sports betting is considered to be a game of skill, as is poker. The French regulatory system doesn’t authorize games of luck except the lottery.
Assemblyman Gary Pretlow has said that he will introduce a sports betting bill in January 2019. The bill will be the same as the text of the bill he introduced in 2018. Pretlow is Chairman of the Assembly’s Racing and Wagering Committee, so he is the man to watch in the state’s lower chamber.
Current thinking is that NY will pass new sports betting legislation in 2019. The driver, as in most states is the catastrophic condition of state finances. Revenues from legalized sports betting are probably going to be included in the state budget which comes out at the end of March 2019.
New York casinos ready to launch sports betting
Meanwhile the four state licensed casinos are ready to go. Each has appointed a sports betting partner. These are:
- The Del Lago Casino & DraftKings
- Tioga Downs & FanDuel
- The Rivers Casino & Kambi
- The Resorts World Casino & Bet365
Over and above these, the Oneida Indian Nation has entered into a partnership with Caesars. Under the deal the Oneida will launch Caesars branded sports betting at its New York properties.
According to the tribal compact, this sports betting can’t start until the state authorizes its own licensed casinos. The agreement must also pass scrutiny from the National Indian Gaming Commission.
The Oneida Indian Nation runs three casinos on their tribal lands:
- Turning Stone Resort Casino
- Yellow Brick Road Casino
- Point Place Casino