Is Sports Betting Legal in NY? Gambling Bill Update

Since New Jersey won its battle against the PASPA at Supreme Court in 2018, every state in the US has the right to decide on the legality of sports betting on its own. Fast-forward to 2021, and almost half the states have sportsbooks within their borders. Does New York State belong to this category?

The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that sports wagering is legal in land-based casinos. Online betting sites and sportsbook apps do not exist yet. The word to focus on is “yet,” as things are likely to change in 2021.

What is the Current Status of the New York Gambling Bill?

May 14, 2018 – this is the date that marks a new era in the sports betting universe. That’s when New Jersey got its Supreme Court victory, which lifted the ban on sports betting on the federal level. The Court’s decision did leave it to individual states to make the final decision for themselves.

Just a little bit over a year later, the State of New York decided to make sports betting legal, based on legislation that the state’s lawmakers prepared back in 2013. According to the legislation, only land-based casinos can receive the sportsbook license. What this means is that New Yorkers currently don’t have the luxury to bet online.

Other important rules laid out in the NY gambling bill include the following:

  • Only adults aged 21 or more are allowed to bet.
  • People directly involved with sporting organizations (athletes, coaching staff, etc.) cannot bet in NY.
  • No betting on collegiate programs based in the state.
  • Only sports events are eligible – you can’t bet on politics, entertainment, weather, etc.
  • No proposition bets are allowed, including Super Bowl props (e.g., Gatorade color).

All of the above-mentioned rules will probably remain in force even after New York expands its gambling bill.

The Future of Online/Mobile Sports Betting in New York

With the COVID-19 pandemic creating a huge hole in the state’s budget, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has changed his stance on online sports betting. He and his fellow lawmakers now look at it as a fantastic source of tax revenue.

In January 2021, Cuomo proposed a new law that would make certain forms of online gaming legal. If things go according to his plan, New York is going to get mobile sports betting apps, as well as web-based sportsbooks.

Cuomo’s intention is to use online gambling tax for school aid. Knowing that the state is facing an $8.7 billion deficit, it’s reasonable to assume Governor will push for this law to come into motion as quickly as possible.

At the moment of writing, there’s still a debate among New York legislators on which model should be used – monopolized betting model or open-market.

NY Governor seems to be in favor of the monopolized model, similar to the state lottery. Judging by what Cuomo said in a couple of interviews at the start of 2021, he prefers the scenario in which a single operator will be in charge of online/mobile betting in New York.

However, it seems more likely that the latter option will win. It’s not just because more operators equals more money in the state’s budget, but also because the open-market model would ensure fair and healthy competition.

If this scenario plays out, the state could get up to 14 online/mobile sportsbooks.

Betting Apps and Sites Which Will Launch in NY

In order to launch an online betting site or a sportsbook app, an operator needs to partner up with a licensed land-based casino. In 2021, there are 32 casinos in the State of New York, but not all of them will get sportsbook licenses.

In fact, it’s expected New York legislators will allow up to 14 sportsbook websites/apps. The brands that should launch first are those that already have partnerships with land-based casinos in New York.

Those brands are, namely:

  • BetRivers (partnership with Rivers Casino Schenectady)
  • BetMGM (partnership with Yonkers Raceway)
  • Bet365 (partnership with Resorts World Catskills)
  • FanDuel (partnership with Tioga Downs in Nichols)
  • DraftKings (partnership with Del Lago Resort in Waterloo)
  • William Hill (partnership with Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona)
  • Barstool (parternship with Rivers Casino Schenectady)

In addition to the sportsbook operators that already have a presence in New York, it’s certain that other gaming giants want to get involved as well. Companies like FOX Bet, Unibet, and WynnBet would hate to miss on such an opportunity.

How and Where to Bet on Sports in New York State?

On July 16, 2019, the chairman of NY Racing and Wagering Committee J. Gary Pretlow became the first person to place a sports wager in the state.

He did that at Rivers Casino, which is one of only four commercial casinos within the state borders that run sportsbook operations. In addition, there are also a couple of tribal casinos with sportsbooks on their premises. You can check out all of them on the map below!

As you can see, New Yorkers don’t have too many options before them when sports betting is concerned. The land-based sportsbooks don’t seem capable of catering to a market of 20 million people, which is the population of New York State.

That’s another reason why New York legislators are seriously thinking about making mobile betting legal in the near future.

Will Online Casinos Become Available Too?

History taught us that when it comes to online gambling in the US, things usually don’t go as smoothly as with sports betting. The fact is that in 2021, there are only five states with online casinos – New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Michigan.

However, after the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is not the same as it used to be. States need money, and online casinos can bring it to them. So, will New York become the sixth state to legalize online casino gambling?

Probably not, as many other states are already working on the legislation. Still, this doesn’t mean NY lawmakers are big opponents of online gambling. It’s very likely that they will make this gaming form legal in the upcoming years.

The view on gambling has changed quite a lot in the Empire State over the years. Back in the 1840s, New York had one of the harshest gambling laws in the country, which kept the state gambling-free for more than 150 years.

Then, in 1988, the United States Congress enacted the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, practically allowing tribal casinos to launch even in the states where gambling is not legal. As a result, New York got its first casinos in the early 1990s.

The next big milestone in the history of NY casinos happened in 2013 when the state legislators decided to embrace commercial casinos. From there, the next obvious step is to make online casinos legal. The only question is when?