The Oneida Indian Nation in central upstate New York announced Wednesday it has struck a deal with Caesars Entertainment to offer sports betting at its three tribal gaming locations.
The implementation of sports wagering, pending review by a federal agency and issuance of state gaming regulations, would begin at the Oneida’s flagship Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, about a 40-minute drive east of Syracuse. The tribal operator says it will also offer sports betting at the tribe’s other two New York State casinos, Yellow Brick Road, in Chittenango; and Point Place, in Bridgeport.
“When it comes to sports betting, Caesars is in a class of its own,” said Ray Halbritter, an Oneida spokesman said in a statement.
- The deal allows Turning Stone, Yellow Brick Road and Point Place customers to gain access to Caesars highly regarded loyalty awards program, “Total Rewards” including the ability to redeem their loyalty points and have their tier levels matched at all Caesars’ casinos.
- The Oneidans can now market the Caesars brand in upstate New York in competition with Del Lago Resort & Casino, near Waterloo, now aligned with DraftKings where it expected to create an onsite sportsbook, and Tioga Downs, west of Binghamton, which has a similar deal with FanDuel.
- The deal increases likelihood that other tribal gaming companies nationwide will seek out established sportsbook operators, such as Caesars, to “risk manage” their sportsbooks, following this template rather than taking sports bets on their own.
A gaming powerhouse
Caesars Entertainment, with its estimated $4.85 billion in yearly revenue, is a national gambling powerhouse, with 50 U.S. casinos operating under the Caesars and Harrah’s brands. Caesars started offering sports betting in New Jersey and Mississippi in the months following the May U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn PAPSA, the federal law that made Nevada-style sports betting illegal most everywhere else.
Turning Stone said it will launch sports betting with Caesars when as soon as the National Indian Gaming Commission finishes its review of the question of sports betting and when the New York State Gaming Commission releases sports wagering regulations, which the Oneida nation would adopt.
The nation says it’s not required to wait for new state legislation. A New York lawmaker has already filed a sports betting bill ahead of the 2019 session, which begins Wednesday. The tribe contends its current compact with the state allows Oneida casinos to add new games that are offered elsewhere in the state. “The nation previously has adopted numerous games under this provision, and the nation now will adopt sports betting, too,” Oneida spokesman Joel Barkin said last year.
A 2013 state law also stipulated that if sports betting was no longer federally banned, it could be offered at the four commercial casinos that have opened across upstate New York since December 2016. Those are Resorts World Catskills, del Lago, Tioga Downs, and Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady.
Mobile betting a must
New York Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow (D-District 89), told Sports Handle in November he is seeking a sports betting bill that would allow mobile betting in addition to allowing New Yorkers to bet on local collegiate teams.
The Pretlow sponsored bill calls for the same 8.25 percent tax rate on bets made at a brick-and-mortar sportsbooks and online. Tribal casinos are not subject that tax, however. The longtime legislator insists that mobile sports betting would be needed to compete with New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Currently, the only tribal gaming operations offering sports betting are the Choctaw, at several of its Mississippi locations, and at the Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel, a tribal gaming operation in New Mexico, near Albuquerque.