Voters in New York State are split right down the middle when it comes to the question of legalizing online sports betting. That’s according to a new poll conducted by Siena College, which found that 44 percent favored digital wagering and 44 percent were against it, with 12 percent undecided or indifferent.

Online sports betting

Voters in New York City were more disposed to online sports betting than their friends upstate but currently it wouldn’t have enough support to be approved in a referendum, according to a new poll. (Image: Shutterstock)

New York residents voted to legalize sports betting in 2013 when they approved an amendment to the constitution to authorize commercial casino gaming. Once the US Supreme Court overturned the federal ban last May, all that was needed to set the ball rolling was a framework of regulation and taxation to be drafted by the New York State Gaming Commission.

The regulations that finally appeared last month contained no provision for online sports betting, although they are currently subject to a consultation period, during which time at least two lawmakers are prepared to argue for its inclusion.

Constitutional Question

The regulator’s omission is due to its belief that the 2013 referendum only authorized sports betting to take place within the physical confines of the four upstate casinos that were licensed as a result of the vote. Anything else would require an additional constitutional amendment via another public referendum.

But State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-15th) and State Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-89th) believe that online wagering could be legal under the state constitution because it would technically be taking place inside the casinos where the servers processing the bets would be located.

If that line proves fruitless, the two lawmakers have introduced bills that would let voters have their say, but if the results of any future referendum were to tally with this week’s poll, the effort would fail.

Battle of the Sexes

The poll did not ask whether those responding favored or opposed legal sports betting in general. Among its findings were that voters upstate were viewed online sports betting marginally less favorably than those in the New York City.

Men were more likely to support online sports betting (53 to 35 percent for), while women were opposed (51 to 37 percent against).

Meanwhile, Democrats were slightly more opposed, while Republicans were slightly more pro digital wagering.

A majority of voters with household incomes of less than $50,000 a year were against online betting (50 to 36 percent), while a majority of more affluent voters with incomes of $100,000-plus favored the idea (54 to 38 percent for).