New York Governor Cuomo Calls for Sports Betting at Upstate Casinos, No Mention of Racetracks, Tribes

Posted on: January 16, 2019, 12:00h. 

Last updated on: January 16, 2019, 10:27h.

The good news is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wants legal and regulated sports betting in the state and he has included revenues from a future market in his budget plan, due to be submitted to Albany this week.

Sports betting
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his State of the State address on Tuesday. He wants to use revenues from sports betting — as well as legalized marijuana — to plug a $3 billion hole in the budget. (Image: Associated Press)

The bad news is, he only wants legal and regulated sports betting at New York’s four upstate commercial casinos. The governor made no mention of other possible stakeholders like New York’s racetracks or tribal operators — nor any mention of online wagering — during his State of the State speech on Tuesday afternoon.

“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,” he said.

Sports Betting Already Legal

State residents voted to authorize the four casinos in a 2013 referendum, which changed the constitution to allow commercial casino gaming. The same referendum also approved sports betting for the new casinos in the event that federal ban was lifted, as it was last May.

Thus, sports wagering is already legal in New York State — at least for the four upstate casinos — it just requires the New York State Gaming Commission to draw up a framework of regulation and taxation.

It had been anticipated that legislature would pass a bill this year that would open it up to other potential operators — and this still could still be in the cards — but it would likely require further amendment to the constitution by public referendum.

And meanwhile, according to The Buffalo News, officials from the governor’s office have been telling stakeholders that Cuomo prefers limiting sports betting to the four upstate casinos only.

Tribes Covered by Compacts?

But tribal operators believe they are entitled to offer sports betting, as “class III gaming” under the terms of existing compacts, as long as it is offered elsewhere in the state. The Oneida nation is prepared to test this theory and has a deal in place with Caesars Entertainment to open sports books at its three casinos as soon as the commercial casinos roll out theirs.

Cuomo plans to use revenues from sports betting — along with legalized marijuana — to help plug a $3 billion budget deficit and the New York State market is potentially huge. Analysis by Eilers and Krejcik Gaming suggest that land-based sports betting in the state could generate $532 million in annual gross gaming revenue — twice as much as Las Vegas, but that’s provided all potential stakeholders participate.

Cuomo’s ‘sports betting lite’ version is likely to generate far less.