Sports Betting with a New York State of Mind Scheduled to Start Tuesday

Posted on: July 15, 2019, 08:20h. 

Last updated on: July 15, 2019, 08:33h.

And New York will make 10.

A rendering of the sportsbook at Rivers Casino in Schenectady, N.Y. that, when it opens Tuesday, will be the first in New York to accept sports bets. (Image: Rivers Casino and Resort)

The Empire State is set to officially join the legal sports betting fraternity when the Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady takes its first bets on Tuesday.

The grand opening comes five weeks after the New York Gaming Commission (NYGC) formally adopted sports betting regulations. That came after a 60-day public comment period.

Voters approved sports betting in six years ago when they passed a referendum allowing seven casinos in the state. The US Supreme Court’s decision last year overturning the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act allowed the state to move forward.

The Rivers Web site said Tuesday’s grand opening would be pending commission approval. The Albany Times-Union reported on Monday that the grand opening would continue as scheduled and that NYGC officials would attend.

At about 5,000 square feet, the Rivers sportsbook will accommodate up to 80 patrons. The lounge will include a 9-foot tall LED video wall that stretches 53 feet in width.

Rivers will soon have company as FanDuel announced on Monday the grand opening of its sportsbook at Tioga Downs will take place on Friday at the harness track and casino in the state’s Southern Tier. Tioga Downs is owned by the same company that runs the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey.

No announcement has been made regarding when sportsbooks will open at del Lago Resort and Casino and Resorts World Catskills. Sports betting will also be allowed at Indian casinos in the state.

Sports Betting Restrictions

Licensed sportsbooks will not be allowed to offer odds on any New York collegiate team. The sportsbooks also will not be able to take bets on horse races.

Online sports betting also will not be allowed as the state legislature has not passed a bill allowing it. Even if it did, there’s some question of whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo would sign such a bill as he’s advocated for a constitutional amendment to allow online betting.

The lack of online betting will likely dampen revenue expectations for the state. New York will be the most populous state to allow sports betting, but none of the sportsbooks are within 90 minutes of New York City.

That’s music to neighboring New Jersey’s ears. It has allowed online sports betting for nearly a year. Mobile wagering accounts for about 80 percent of the state’s handle.

Gaming industry leaders have estimated that about a quarter of mobile sports bets placed in New Jersey are placed by New Yorkers who make the short trek across the Hudson River to bet legally. Thanks in part to New York bettors, New Jersey finally eclipsed Nevada for the highest monthly handle in May.

Downstate Push Coming?

The advent of sports betting also comes at a time when gaming industry executives are making a concerted effort to get full-fledged casinos – and with them, sports betting – closer to the Big Apple sooner than currently planned.

While the state established seven casino licenses six years ago, officials first awarded the four upstate venues first. They held off on the New York City area licenses to give the upstate license holders a chance to establish themselves. The present plan is to award the downstate licenses in 2023