The first phase of starting NY sports betting is in motion, but mobile wagering did not make the initial cut.
The New York State Gaming Commission gave preliminary approval Monday to rules and regulations that would authorize sports wagering at four upstate casinos.
The six-member commission did not discuss the topic before voting. The proposed rules and regulations will enter a 60-day public comment period before the commission can give final approval.
What’s in proposed NY sports betting rules
The 33-page proposal, draft copy of which Legal Sports Report published Friday, contains basic guidelines for the licensing application process, system requirements, and wager types.
The reading of the agenda item by commission staff made clear that the point of the rules is to “enable the four facilities to get running as soon as possible.”
Those four facilities that will be covered by the regulations are Del Lago Resort & Casino, Tioga Downs Casino, Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady and Resorts World Catskills.
What was left out of the proposed rules
More noteworthy is what is not included in the rules:
- No mobile wagering: The staff reading specified that the proposed rules “remain within the scope of activities the legislature authorized.” In 2013, the legislature authorized, and voters approved, sports betting at the four new upstate casinos, but not at racinos, off-track betting parlors or through mobile apps.
- No bad-actor clause: There is no overt “bad actor” exclusion for vendors, but activities during the last five years do factor into the consideration of applications.
- No integrity/royalty fee: The sports leagues have a 0.2 percent integrity fee in the comprehensive sports betting legislation (including mobile and racinos) that failed in the legislature last session but has been reintroduced. The rules don’t include such a fee or any mandate for the casinos to pay for official league data, which could be a difficult precedent for the leagues to change.
Expect the leagues, all based in New York, to be active over the next 60 days.
Regulations a long time coming
New York was poised to be one of the first states to get into sports betting following the May 2018 Supreme Court decision that overturned PASPA, opening it up for all states to choose if they want to legalize and regulate sports betting.
Since the state already had the 2013 law and constitutional amendment authorizing sports wagering at the four commercial casinos on the books, all that was needed to proceed was for the Gaming Commission to issue rules and regulations, and begin the licensing process.
However, while other states moved ahead with sports betting over the past eight months, there was silence from the commission. It perhaps was waiting to see if the executive and legislative branches were going to expand the scope of sports betting during the budgetary process.
Instead, Gov. Andrew Cuomo nudged regulators in his State of the State address earlier this month:
“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.”
At the same time, Cuomo’s budget director stated that the governor’s office believed further expansion of sports betting beyond what was approved in 2013 would require another constitutional amendment, which is a three-year process.
The Gaming Commission quickly acted by issuing of proposed rules and regulations in its next scheduled session.
Mobile still a possibility?
It might be a long shot, but Sen. Joseph Addabbo, Jr., chair of the Senate Racing, Wagering and Gaming Committee, told Legal Sports Report he is going to advocate for mobile wagering to be included in the final rules and regulations.
Addabbo contends that neither a constitutional amendment nor any further legislation is needed to authorize mobile wagering at the four commercial casinos, as long as the servers are located at the casinos and people register for mobile accounts in person.
This would be a huge development, allowing the state to keep revenue from New York City sports bettors who currently go into New Jersey to place their wagers. They aren’t likely to change that routine if it means driving upstate every time they want to make a bet.
It’s clear that the sports betting partners for the New York casinos — DraftKings Sportsbook for Del Lago, FanDuel Sportsbook for Tioga Downs, bet365 for Resorts World Catskills and Rush Street Interactive for Rivers — would like the opportunity to tap into the NYC market with mobile wagers.
The rules, as currently written, seem to eliminate the possibility for mobile wagers in this excerpt on the placement of wagers:
“All wagers pursuant to this Part shall be placed within a sports wagering lounge with a wagering cashier at a wagering counter or at an automated ticket machine located within a sports wagering lounge or other location or other location within the gaming facility as approved by the commission.”
Tribes can play too
Although they are not included in these rules and regulations, tribal casinos in New York have legal reciprocity to offer any gambling games allowed at the state’s commercial casinos.
The Oneida Indian Nation announced a partnership with Caesars Entertainment earlier this month to bring sports betting to three upstate casinos — Turning Stone Resort Casino, Yellow Brick Road Casino and Point Place Casino — pending approval by the National Indian Gaming Commission and the issuance of NY sports betting regulations.