The state of New York officially began accepting legal sports bets this past week. Rivers Casino Schenectady was the first to open its sportsbook on Tuesday. Then on Friday, FanDuel and Tioga Downs Casino joined the party as they opened up that afternoon after two days of testing.
Sports betting was actually legalized in New York back in 2013 as part of the voter referendum that included the creation of the state’s four commercial casinos. The only thing New York had to wait for was the lift of the federal ban on sports betting, which happened in May of 2018. Under the referendum, the state’s four commercial casinos would be able to offer sports betting, which they all will.
Tribal casinos in the state will also be eligible to offer sports betting thanks to the compacts they have with the state. Under these compacts, tribal casinos are able to offer any type of gaming that is allowed at any commercial casinos in the state. The Oneida Nation looks to be the first tribe that will cross that finish line. They have released plans to have a sportsbook open at one of their locations as soon as Aug. 1 of this year.
Not As Good As It Could Be
While the launching of sports betting is a big win for New York, the win is not as big as it could be. The state failed to legalize mobile sports betting for the second straight year. There was a little extra push this past session, and it appeared there would be a chance for a late-session bill to pass. However, like previous years, the bill fell short.
Governor Andrew Cuomo suggests that a constitutional amendment is needed to legalize mobile betting. This process would take about three years, so if that is the case, New York won’t see mobile until at least 2022, possibly longer. Some lawmakers, including Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (who has been trying to get mobile betting legalized), believe that Cuomo is hiding behind a constitutional amendment excuse.
Regardless of whether or not the state will need an amendment, New York is losing millions of dollars a year to New Jersey. New York City residents are about two hours from the state’s nearest commercial casino (Resorts World Catskills). Bettors will not travel two hours to place bets when they can simply cross over into New Jersey and place bets on their phones, where mobile sports betting is legal.
When Will Mobile Happen?
New York should no doubt be celebrating the launching of legal sports betting in the state. However, there still is a lot of work to be done in dealing with the mobile issue.
The fact remains that New York needs mobile betting in order to maximize its revenue potential from sports betting. Without it, New Jersey will continue to rake in the New York sports betting handle (estimated at 10-15 percent of New Jersey’s total handle each month).
Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow have expressed their desire to keep pushing for mobile betting in New York. The next legislative session will be an important one, and we may finally find out if New York will actually need an amendment or not.