New York Sports Betting Could Come to Upstate Casinos Through 2013 Law

Posted on: June 22, 2018, 06:41h. 

Last updated on: June 22, 2018, 06:41h.

New York sports betting was a highly debated topic over the last month in the State Assembly, but with no common ground reached on several key topics, the legislature adjourned this week without passing a bill to legalize the gambling activity.

New York sports betting regulations
The New York State Gaming Commission says “in the short term” the agency will release regulations authorizing four upstate casinos to begin taking sports bets. (Image: Marc Schultz/The Daily Gazette)

For the New York Gaming Commission, that means it’s on to Plan B.

Sports betting is underway at New Jersey’s horse racetracks and Atlantic City casinos, and Delaware casinos are also taking wagers on professional and college sports. In hopes of not being too late to the game, the Gaming Commission is reviewing a 2013 law that might allow Upstate New York casinos to implement sports betting without new legislation.

The same 2013 statute that authorized four “destination resort casinos in Upstate New York” might provide them with the legal authority to operate sportsbooks immediately.

According to ESPN gambling reporter David Purdum, the Gaming Commission is “working on regulations that will open the door for sports betting at state casinos.”

Casinos Struggling

Four Upstate New York casinos have since opened thanks to the 2013 law signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo (D). But it’s been tough going in the opening year for Del Lago, Rivers, Tioga Downs, and Resorts World Catskills.

Gambling revenue at the casinos is far below projections proposed to the state Gaming Commission during the bidding period. Del Lago owner Thomas Wilmot appealed Cuomo’s budget division this week in a private meeting where he’s suspected to have requested some sort of state help.

Cuomo rejected such asks in March, explaining the commercial casinos are private entities. “I don’t want to get into the business of private concerns,” the governor stated.

Allowing the venues to operate sports betting could provide some sort of boost. Nevada’s 191 sportsbooks set a revenue record in 2017 with $248.8 million in earnings.

What Law Says

The 2013 legislation that led to the four commercial casinos seemingly also grants them the rights to sports betting. Last month, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) on anti-commandeering interpretations of the Tenth Amendment.

No gaming facility may conduct sports wagering until such time as there has been a change in federal law authorizing such or upon a ruling of a court of competent jurisdiction that such activity is lawful,” the 2013 casino bill reads.

The legislation goes on to detail how sports betting must operate, including mandating that bets be placed in a “sports wagering lounge located at a casino,” and from “persons physically present.” Professional and college sports betting would be permitted, the exception being collegiate events that take place within New York borders.

The Gaming Commission was vague in telling Purdum when it might issue final regulations (licensing fee, tax rates) on sports betting using the 2013 law. “The only timeframe they would give me was ‘in the short term,'” Purdum revealed.