New York Gaming Commission Backs Sports Betting Legalization
The New York State Gaming Commission approved a 32-page set of proposed sports betting rules in a unanimous 7-0 vote on Monday. While the ruling does not have the force of law, it is considered a huge hurdle that has been cleared by proponents of New York sports betting.
The commission approve a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” (paywall), which would legalize sportsbooks in New York state. The notice is limited, though, which might complicate counterpart legislation to legalize sports betting.
Only four of New York’s 29 casinos, race tracks, and racinos will be able to open legal sportsbooks. The remainder of the state’s gaming venues cannot accept sports wagers, including New York City-area gaming operations like Resorts World Queens (Aquaduct) and Empire City Casino (Yonkers Raceway).
Instead, the four venues which could open bookmaker operations are Resorts World Catskills in Monticello, N.Y., Rivers Casino in Schenectady, del Lago Casino in Tyre (southeast of Rochester), and Tioga Downs Raceway, west of Binghamton.
2014 New York Casino Licenses
Those are the four casinos which were authorized for casino gambling in a 2013 law. The New York State Gaming Commission’s siting panel reason for approving their licenses in 2014 is similar to the reason the Commission now wants them to have sportsbooks: to boost jobs in Upstate New York.
When the four casinos received licenses, New York gaming officials wanted to build the casinos to generate revenues for cities and counties in northern and western New York, while also creating jobs. Thus, none of the casinos licensed were near New York City, though Genting and Caesars Entertainment each submitted applications for an Orange County casino.
2019 New York Sportsbook Licensing
The same logic applies now. If Yonkers Raceway and Aquaduct received sportsbooks, then New Yorkers would have no incentive to visit the sportsbooks to the north. That is the thinking of the gaming commission, anyway.
Steven A. Greenberg, a spokesman for del Lago Resort, said, “Our customers want this form of gaming. And we’re excited to be able to offer it to them.”
There is reason to be excited. While sports betting has a low margin, it drives non-gamblers who love sports into the casinos. While there, those visitors might gamble on slots row, rent a hotel room, buy drinks at the bar or nightclub, or buy a meal at one of the restaurants.
Ryan Eller of Empire Resorts, which owns Resorts World Catskills (pictured above), added, “Casinos that already offer sports betting have seen an increase in companion play.”
Why Sports Betting Might Not Pass
That could be a huge problem for the remaining casino operators and race track owners in the state. If most of the gaming interests in the state want lawmakers to reject the “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking”, that could be a huge problem for any legalization effort.
Each of the gaming operations is represented by a legislator in the New York Senate and the General Assembly. Each of those lawmakers likely will be lobbied to reject such a proposal. If so, then a New York sports betting bill could die in the legislature.
Of course, is New York tribal casino operators decide that sovereignty issues would keep them from opening sportsbooks without years of negotiations or even legal battles, then they might decide sports betting is not worth their trouble. In that case, they tribal gaming authorities might negotiate concessions from New York’s administration in exchange for their support.
Will Upstate New York Sportsbooks Succeed?
The question is whether the New York State Gaming Commission’s deference to del Lago, Tioga Downs, Resorts World Catskills, and Rivers Casino would work. One major problem is the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, New Jersey has a open sportsbooks run by Paddy Power-Betfair and FanDuel.
Within a few minutes, New York City’s 20 million residents could make a visit to the Meadowlands to make a wager on the Yankees, Mets, Knicks, Nets, Rangers, Islanders, Jets, or Giants. Despite attempts to help Upstate New York operations, New Yorkers still have no reason to drive upstate for a sports wager.