Sports Betting in New York has been a long time coming. In fact, the state has been working tirelessly for almost a decade now to make it a reality. However, they’ve run into many a roadblock and are sitting idly by as other states, especially their neighbors, continue to pass them by, issuing licenses and collecting revenue.
Unfortunately for New York, they have several factors working against them;
- First of all, the New York state constitution basically prohibits sports betting. While this is not a dead end, it just makes it that much more difficult. Altering a state constitution takes time and effort.
- Secondly, New York is home to every major sports league headquarters, and those are four very enriching relationships the state doesn’t want to lose. As you can imagine, the four major sports leagues have a love/hate relationship with sports betting, and it appears as if New York is stuck in the middle.
Sports betting is not legal in any way in the state of New York as of now, and the timetable to legalize and regulate it remains hazy at best.
Where New York’s Been
Senator Eric Adams introduced New York’s first sports betting bill. The bill, S 6061, would have allowed horse tracks and off-track betting facilities to offer wagers on professional sporting events, with the revenue to be allocated for tax relief to residents of the areas near these betting facilities. While the bill stalled in committee, it got the statehouse’s attention and the proverbial ball rolling.
This year Assemblyman David Weprin’s sports betting bill A 10464 was introduced. His bill contained most of the language as Adams’, however, it was sure to include collegiate events and also moved to allocate funds to education rather than tax relief. More importantly, Weprin’s bill added “any constitutionally authorized casino facility” to the list of potential licensees.
This bill included a memo in support of legislation with this justification: “Legalizing professional sports betting in New York would be an opportunity to diminish a serious organized crime enterprise and provide critical funds for education.” The memo also estimated that New York could receive close to $2 billion in annual revenue from sports betting at existing gambling facilities—another attention grabber. However, none of the bills advanced out of committee, though all were reintroduced in the 2013 session.
This was a big year in New York. A ballot that took place included a gaming package designed to stimulate their economy and focused on the upstate region with four new casinos. Under the referendum, the new properties would be permitted to offer a broad range of gambling, including sports betting, and the voters passed the amendment with 57% approving the expansion. Legally speaking, New York sports betting was a go. However, federal law and the PASPA still outlawed the industry.
DFS – Department of Financial Services
In 2015, Weprin and Avella introduced bills A 3080 and S 940 as the tools to expand sports betting in New York to horse tracks and off-track betting sites. At the same time, the state was considering daily fantasy sports legislation, and this is where things got really messy. No one could really decide what daily fantasy sports were. Sports betting? Online gaming?
This issue went to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for a decision. Not wanting to upset the four major sports leagues, Schneiderman shut it down. If you think the Big Four didn’t like sports betting, they hated daily fantasy sports. He sided with the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL, designated DFS as sports gambling, and ordered DraftKings and FanDuel to cease operations. The state went on to pass a fantasy sports law in 2016. This was a major step backwards, and the sports betting bills stalled once again.
Late in 2016, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow decided to jump into the fray and announced his own sports betting legislation.
“I’m looking at challenging the feds on this,” he said, “but I have more homework to do.”
Pretlow is the Chairman of the Assembly’s Racing and Wagering Committee. He was the leader for gaming legislation in his chamber, which had previously expressed resistance. Entering 2017, though, Pretlow seemed to indicate that his concerns had been addressed as he soldiered on. New bills were introduced and A 5438 and S 1282 were the updated numbers given in the 2017-18 session.
The new casinos authorized to conduct sports betting began to open during 2017, with the last one slated to open early in 2018. With the PASPA a thing of the past, the only thing in the way of legal New York sports betting is the state of New York.
Where’s New York Going
In January of 2018, the Gaming and Wagering Committee held their first public hearing on sports betting. The hearing was called by Senator John Bonacic, who chairs the committee, to announce New York lawmaker’s intentions to move forward with legalization.
At about the same time, and as a surprise to everyone, the NBA’s Assistant General Counsel, Dan Spillane, announced a new stance on sports betting from the league. According to Spillane, the NBA no longer opposed New York’s attempt to legalize sports betting. Of course, this came with some conditions, and one of them was paying the league an integrity fee of 1% of all bets placed on NBA games.
The other leagues are sure to come calling too. After all, there is the matter of all four major sports leagues calling New York home. New York will probably be stuck with the fees, which is something every other state to legalize sports betting has been able to avoid.
So now, New York waits. They have the support of the leagues and, even though they may be stuck with those integrity fees, they will soon have their day. Pretlow said that he will again push for sports betting legislation that could include integrity fees in the 2019 session.
Newly elected Governor Andrew Cuomo is even on board and has the issue on his “First 100 Days” To-Do list.
“We invested in upstate casinos. Let’s authorize sports betting in the upstate casinos. It’s here, it’s a reality, and it will help generate activity in those casinos.”
The only real hurdle left is for their Gaming Commission to deliver the regulations and New York sports betting will be legal, licensed, and regulated.