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Almost six years after first becoming legal, New York sports betting became reality Tuesday.
Rivers Casino, in Schenectady, launched its sportsbook with a grand opening ceremony including athletes and politicians.
Rivers Sportsbook becomes the first location for NY sports betting, though it likely will be joined by a number of others in the coming weeks. FanDuel Sportsbook at Tioga Downs in Nichols opened Wednesday morning and should finish its live testing period Friday.
Sports betting in New York is authorized under a 2013 voter-approved referendum. That measure limits legal sports betting to four upstate casinos, and state regulations also permit tribal casinos to offer sports wagering as well.
New York sports betting remains limited to in-person wagers at the upstate facilities. Neighboring states New Jersey and Pennsylvania legalized mobile sports betting and realized far greater revenue because of it. However, New York failed to modernize its law in this year’s legislature.
That bill represents only the most recent stalled effort to clean up NY sports betting law. Expanded sports betting in New York faces opposition from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as well as questions over the constitutionality of placing bets off casino grounds.
Sen. Joe Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow remain committed to clearing mobile sports betting at next year’s legislature. They might ultimately need to push for another referendum to go before voters in Cuomo maintains his opposition to a legislative solution.
Rivers ranked atop the list of favorites to launch first in NY sports betting. The Rush Street Interactive property shares technology and infrastructure with SugarHouse Sportsbook and BetRivers Sportsbook in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Rivers will have competition in the market before long. Tioga Downs launched this week as well. Three Oneida Nation properties, in partnership with Caesars, announced opening dates prior to the Sept. 5 start of the NFL season.
The sportsbooks will remain hamstrung in terms of revenue potential without mobile wagering though. Schenectady sits a three-hour drive from New York City, a similar distance to other upstate sportsbooks authorized under NY law.
More than 80% of New Jersey sports wagers are placed on a mobile device, with many coming from New York residents making the short trip across the border to bet. FanDuel Sportsbook, in New Jersey, says a quarter of its registered accounts belong to NY residents.
Rivers will offer in-person wagering both over the counter and via kiosk. While the sportsbook will not be open 24 hours, the kiosks will be available at all times. The casino plans to offer both pregame and in-game betting options.