NY's tracks, OTBs and racinos are an open question for sports betting
Legal Sports Report

Will NY Go Live With Sports Betting At Four Casinos If NJ Wins In Court? That’s No Slam Dunk

when will NY sports betting go live
A 2013 law in the state of New York already legalized sports betting in the state’s commercial casinos, should the federal ban be lifted.

But will the state immediately open up sportsbooks if New Jersey wins its case to offer sports wagering in the US Supreme Court? That’s not at all clear.

New York looking at new sports betting law

New York gave the green light for sports wagering already via a referendum, constitutional amendment and statutory language now on the books.

However, politicians in NY seem to think a wider authorization of sports wagering will be needed for the state to actually move ahead.

That’s not because of legal concerns for the 2013 law, apparently. It’s because the ability of commercial casinos to offer sports wagering would hurt the state’s network of horse racing tracks, off-track betting facilities and racinos.

How ready is NY for sports betting?

No one in New York is really hanging for the rafters, screaming that they’ve already legalized sports wagering. That’s perhaps the best sign that the state is moving tepidly into the space.

New York and Pennsylvania are the only states (outside of Nevada) that have fully fleshed out sports betting laws on the books. (Connecticut and Mississippi have already taken first steps toward legalization with new laws, and a variety of states have introduced sports betting bills.)

But it’s also not clear if the New York State Gaming Commission is entirely ready to regulate sports wagering, should the federal ban be struck down via the NJ sports betting case.

And then we have the words of key politicians in the state.

What NY lawmakers are saying

Sen. John Bonacic and Assembylmember Gary Pretlow have carried the ball for gaming legislation in recent years. They shepherded a fantasy sports bill through Albany in 2016, and they’ve worked on NY online poker in recent years, as well.

Bonacic and Pretlow — and surely others — appear to be concerned about how a limited rollout of sports betting could adversely affect the gaming facilities that would not be allowed to offer it.

Here’s what Bonacic said in a statement to Legal Sports Report.

“Racing and Pari-Mutuel Wagering and Breeding Law Section 1367 is enough for New York to move forward with sports betting, should the Supreme Court throw out PASPA.  However, as you pointed out in your article, other entities are seeking the opportunity to offer it as well.  That will be the subject of much discussion in the next legislative session.”

Pretlow has also spoken with media outlets more than once of late about sports gambling. Here’s some of his latest, via the Press Republican:

“One thing is clear, and that is there is a demand for sports betting in New York state,” he said, noting he would favor putting all gaming venues, including the OTB parlors, race tracks and casinos, on a “fair playing field.”

Where could NY sports betting take place?

The 2013 law explicitly makes sports betting legal in the state’s three (soon to be four) commercial casinos that came into being because of the 2013 law:

  • del Lago Resort & Casino
  • Tioga Downs Casino
  • Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady 
  • Resorts World Catskills

That’s the full list of places that could, hypothetically, offer sports betting (once regulations/licensing is worked out).

That would not include the rest of the gaming facilities in the state, in theory including tribal casinos. The big concern is the tracks and OTBs, however. New York is very protective of its horse racing industry, and other facilities where horse race wagering take place throughout the state.

The legalization of sports betting at casinos but not at tracks and OTBs could certainly serve to take business away from the latter.

So what’s New York going to do?

New York is in a bit of a pickle.

It’s ready to go with a sports betting law. But that law creates “haves” and “have nots” for existing gaming in the state.

Still, its neighbors — New Jersey and Pennsylvania — could be live with sports wagering as soon as mid-2018, if the US Supreme Court rules that PASPA is unconstitutional.

Waiting for a new law/constitutional amendment would put the entire state behind in the race for being a first-mover in the sports betting space. New York dawdling with a rollout of sports wagering cedes the market to NJ and PA — and potentially other states in the Northeast that could act to legalize it.

What will New York do? Whatever it has planned, it probably wants to figure it out soon.

Correction: This story originally misidentified Finger Lakes as a commercial casino. Resorts World Catskills is the fourth, slated to open in 2018.

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Dustin Gouker
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Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer — including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.