The state is taking steps to legalize betting on all sports but more needs to be done to make New York competitive with other states and to make New York’s gaming industry fair, legislators and stakeholders said. Casinos in new york state.
The state Gaming Commission passed rules Monday regulating sports betting in the state and now casinos in New York will have to wait until the final draft of the rules are passed after a 60-day public comment period.
“I do not think there is anything wrong with the rules,” said state Sen. Daphne Jordan, R-43. “The only sad part is we will not have sports betting in time for the Super Bowl or for March Madness. So New York will be missing out on all that revenue.”
New York adopted an amendment to its constitution in 2013 to allow non-Native American Reservation casinos to be licensed and operate in the state, but the state had to wait before the casinos could operate as locations for sports betting until the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which prohibited states from authorizing sports gambling.
Acting on the nod from the Supreme Court, the state Gaming Commission created rules dictating sports betting that limits where people can gamble on sports and what sports events are eligible for wagering.
Sports betting will not be allowed online or through mobile devices and will be limited to licensed casinos in good standing. Those casinos will be required to provide the state with a plan of operation and document and disclose all experiences the casino operator has with sports betting.
Four non-Indian Reservation casinos received licenses to operate in New York in 2014: Rivers Casino in Schenectady; Lago Resort and Casino in the town of Tyre, Seneca County; Resorts World Catskills in Monticello, Sullivan County; and Tioga Downs Casino, Racing and Entertainment in the town of Nichols, Tioga County.
“The rules do not go far enough,” said Gary Greenberg of New Baltimore, a minority shareholder in Vernon Downs Racino and Raceway. “It limits sports betting to brick-and-mortar facilities. Online and mobile devices is where most of the sports betting is done.”
Greenberg has been a student of the gaming industry for 25 years. His grandfather owned shares of Vernon Downs in the 1950s.
The exclusion of online sports betting in New York makes the state less competitive with other states, such as New Jersey, that allow sports betting, Greenberg said.
New Jersey amended its state constitution to allow sports betting in 2011 and implemented it with online wagering immediately after the Supreme Court decision.
“About 90 percent of the business is done over the phone,” Greenberg said. “New York needs to look at the whole picture: If they want to be competitive or do not want to be competitive. New York is behind states like New Jersey.”
New York’s sports betting rules exclude online betting based on an Oct. 29, 2018, decision by state Supreme Court Justice Gerald Connolly striking down fantasy sports betting characterized by sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel.
Legislation making online fantasy sports betting legal in the state was passed in June 2016 in part because fantasy games are not games of chance and therefore not a form of gambling.
It was an opinion Connolly did not share when he made his 2018 ruling.
Connolly overturned the legislation, determining that legalization of online sports betting would require a change to the state constitution, much like the change made to allow casinos to be licensed in the state.
An amendment to the state constitution would take at least three years.
“I worked on the 2013 constitutional amendment and pushed for its passage and I believe it does allow for online sports betting,” Greenberg said. “The amendment process is a long process to go through and we are already losing revenue. This is a very competitive saturated market.”
Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr., D-15, chairman of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, and his counterpart in the Assembly, J. Gary Pretlow, D-89, said at the end of the 2018 legislative session that online sports betting could be legal without an amendment as long as players register at a brick-and-mortar sports betting facility.
Many of New York’s licensed casinos have contracts with sites such as DraftKings, Greenberg said, and that the issue will most likely be resolved with an agreement between the governor and the Legislature through the budget process. The state budget is due April 1.
Jordan, the ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, supports a bill in the Senate, sponsored by Addabbo, which would start the constitutional amendment process to open sports betting to online and other gaming facilities such as racinos. Jordan’s district includes the Saratoga Raceway and Racino.
“People in New York City are crossing the bridge into New Jersey to place sports bets,” Jordan said. “Gambling is a tricky market. We are losing a share of the revenue.”
Jordan is also concerned about the future of Saratoga and the hit the legendary racetrack took when the Rivers Casino opened Feb. 8, 2017.
With four non-Reservation casinos and casinos owned by Native American tribes in New York allowed to facilitate sports betting, racinos and racetracks will find it tougher to compete in New York’s limited gaming industry, Greenberg said.
Greenberg cited the impending April closing of Monticello Raceway, owned by Empire Resorts Inc., the company that also owns Resort World Catskills Hotel and Casino, as a harbinger of things to come.
“I think racinos and off-track betting sites should be allowed to have sports betting to be competitive,” Greenberg said. “[Empire] said they were going to keep the raceway when they applied for a casino license. You’ll see other racinos will close. The raceways are a good industry that employ a lot of people. I would hate to see it go.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo included legalizing sports betting in his priorities for the 2019 legislative session that started Jan. 9, but did not provide details.