New York legislators have been trying to broker an agreement on legal online sports betting for the better part of three years, since before the Supreme Court struck down the 1992 federal ban on sports wagering outside Nevada.
In-person sports wagering is currently legal in New York thanks to an act passed in 2013 and a regulatory framework established in 2019 for brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. But online betting has been a bumpier road that finally in 2021 became a bit clearer, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signaled a desire to allow online betting and reap the benefit of millions in tax revenue.
However, if Cuomo doesn’t have a change of heart about how to launch online wagering in NY, it’s possible that New Yorkers will be limited to a single, inferior, state lottery-run sportsbook, rather than an open, competitive commercial market like the ones thriving in neighboring New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
While there’s support in both the New York Senate and Assembly for regulated online sports betting, the legislature as a whole has not yet sent a bill for online sportsbooks all the way to the Governor’s desk. That may happen soon, but even if they did, it’s still not clear whether Cuomo would sign. We expect, at some point in the first half of 2021, some compromise between a single-entity model, and an open market. A consulting group hired by the state’s gaming commission recently submitted its overdue study of the potential online market in NY.
Stay tuned here for the latest details.
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Online and mobile sportsbook apps in New York
While we can’t say with certainty that the following online sportsbooks will apply for and gain New York sports betting licenses, many of them are already set up with casino or racetrack partners, and have agreed to partner for online betting if/when it becomes permitted.
There are four casino locations in NY already offering in-person sports betting, and if Cuomo is steered away from his monopolized betting model, these will be the first to go live with mobile betting. If the market opens fully, we’ll expect to see more casinos release online sportsbooks, as current iterations of the open-market legislation would allow for 14 online “skins” or brands.
Here’s a partial list:
|Online Sportsbook Brand||Land-Based Partner||Online / Mobile Launch||Retail Launch||Location|
|Bet365||Resorts World Catskills||TBA||September 5th, 2019||Monticello
|BetRivers||Rivers Casino Schenectady||TBA||July 16th, 2019||Schenectady|
|DraftKings||Del Lago Resort & Casino||TBA||August 23rd, 2019||Waterloo
|FanDuel||Tioga Downs||TBA||July 19th, 2019||Nichols|
|William Hill||Turning Stone Resort Casino||TBA||August 1st, 2019||Verona|
There are several brands offering online sports betting in neighboring states (PA, NJ) whom haven’t yet forged agreements with NY casinos, but may in the future. They include:
Interestingly, though some new venues like stadiums and OTBs would become eligible to offer sports betting under Senator Joseph Addabbo’s proposal for 14 skins, this bill may not cover certain national betting providers. It’s been argued that the language of the 2013 constitutional amendment allowing for legal betting would disqualify BetMGM and some others from offering mobile wagering, as the law currently states that servers processing the bet must be physically within the casino.
BetMGM, as you may know, operates from Nevada-based servers, at least at this time, which might require some creativity from the company to enter the state. All is subject to review, and Addabbo may expand the scope of the bill to include more partners, but this too might need to be a constitutional amendment, delaying the matter.
How many online sportsbooks in NY?
Well, unfortunately, that number isn’t clear. With all of the above in mind, we’re going to see a potential upper limit of 14 online sportsbooks in NY and a potential minimum of just the one. If Cuomo isn’t swayed by any of the legislature’s bills, he’s going to push forward with the state-run model, as his advisors have (erroneously) indicated it’s the best move in terms of revenue generation.
Addabbo and company argue that the jobs and taxes brought in by an open market are as good as revenue, adding that their revenue projections differ from the Governor’s. There are a lot of watchful eyes here, as the New York gambling market has a lot of interested parties hoping to make some money off of the move to online betting, including the state itself. As we’ve stated before, these various interested parties all have their own figures on potential revenue from open, closed, or limited online sports betting markets.
At the end of the day, though, Cuomo’s got the upper hand on how things will shake out, and he’s unlikely to sign any bill into law if he’s not convinced it is the best moneymaker for the state.
The 2022 budget proposal is “proof-in-the-pudding” that Cuomo is going to be a hard sell for Addabbo’s open market, and his comments in the first quarter of 2021 don’t indicate that the governor is willing to wiggle too much on this issue. Simply put, if things change, we could see up to 14 online sportsbooks in the Empire State, but it’s up in the air at this point. Some jurisdictions — such as Oregon – — have seen its state lottery learn the hard way that a sole-sportsbook model is a recipe for flopping.
Land-based sportsbooks in New York
New York had been poised for legal sports betting in one way or another since 2013’s New York Gaming Economic Development Act, which was implemented by constitutional amendment establishing a potential framework that contemplated sports wagering becoming permitted if federal law changed. Which it did: In 2018, the US Supreme Court overturned the federal law prohibiting sports wagering in states outside Nevada (PASPA), and the wheels were set in motion for New York sports betting, and legal wagers in whichever states moved forward with legalization and/or a framework for them.
By summer 2019, the New York State Gaming Commission approved a set of rules for four retail (also referred to as “commercial”) casinos to offer sports betting in-person at upstate locations. Neither the words “mobile” nor “online” were included in these provisions, however.
A month after above’s Part 5239 was added to the NY Code, Rivers Casino opened its first physical sportsbook in Schenectady, and sports wagering in the Empire State began in earnest, with legal betting allowed at the following locations:
- Del Lago Resort & Casino in Seneca County (DraftKings Inc.)
- Resorts World Catskills in Sullivan County (Bet365)
- Rivers Casino in Schenectady County (Rush Street Interactive and Kambi Group plc)
- Tioga Downs in Tioga County (Betfair US/FanDuel Sportsbook)
In 2019, a sportsbook opened at the Turning Stone Resort Casino and the Point Place Casino, tribal properties that have partnered with Caesars Sports to offer their services. Because of Caesars Entertainment’s acquisition of William Hill, it’s expected that William Hill will be the branding that these locations go with for their online sports betting platform, if they’re given the option to offer one.
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More background on the NY online betting discussions
Assembly Member J. Gary Pretlow and State Senator Joseph Addabbo are the chief proponents of an open, mobile sports betting market in the NY legislature. Since the legalization of betting on a federal level in 2018, the two have been making the case for online sports betting as a major boon to the New York economy, citing the success of neighboring states’ betting markets with open competition, and New Jersey actually siphoning dollars from New Yorkers seeking legal betting platforms; FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands is only eight miles from New York City, and rest stops just over the border where patrons can access sportsbooks online within New Jersey.
Cuomo’s 2022 budget for New York included proposed revenue from mobile sports betting, a clear indicator that the Governor planned to move forward with some form of online wagering. Again, however, Cuomo was not convinced by Pretlow and Addabbo’s claims that an open, competitive market leads to higher revenues, and argued that the state-run, lottery-managed model as proposed in his 2022 budget is the best “for the people”.
Budget Director Robert Mujica agrees, estimating the state-run model would bring in ten times the revenue that an open competition model would. Such is politics, with research firms, budget committees, and politicians themselves giving out vastly contradictory figures. As for the numbers, they paint a different picture– that revenues from the lottery-driven model fall short of those from competitive, multi-brand markets.
Addabbo’s bill allows for up to 14 mobile betting “skins” (essentially, licenses) and opens the online sports betting market to tribal casinos, stadiums/sports venues, and OTB parlors. This open market approach has been touted as the most profitable for New Yorkers because it will create jobs as well as bring in revenue.
It’s been two years since Sen. Addabbo and Assembly Member Pretlow proposed their initial frameworks for a full-fledged, competitive online sports betting market. S17D and A6113C made it to the floor in 2019, with the former passing 57-5 and getting bounced to Finance.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie opposed the latter measure before it could be approved by Finance and moved on to the Governor, halting Pretlow’s momentum and losing another leg of that coveted trifecta: measures must pass through the Senate, the Assembly, and the governor before they can be voted into law by the public (as these would amend the current NY Code, they have to go to a ballot measure). Interestingly enough, mobile wagering on horse racing didn’t have to amend the constitution, and passed with a simple bill.
Forecast for 2021
It’s likely that the 2021-2022 New York legislative session will produce the enactment some form of online sports betting. What’s also likely is Cuomo shutting down attempts to open up the market for new providers, as he continues to play the hokey-pokey with his public statements: his right hand’s in, his right hand’s out.
Inching ever closer to online sports betting in any form, legislators are already working on proposals to send to the governor’s desk, the aforementioned S1183 and the Assembly companion A01257 are written, sponsored, and in review by the respective Finance committees, at which point the ball is in Cuomo’s court.
If he signs the joint proposal into law, you can expect at least 14 sportsbook licenses to be up for grabs in 2022. If not, he’ll likely move forward with one state-run sportsbook or up to four licensed providers to start recouping some of 2020’s massive losses. Industry experts have claimed that a state-run single online sportsbook will struggle to match up to the revenues generated from taxing a fully open market, but Cuomo and his camp seem to be heavily leaning in the direction of the former.
Quick overview: Lottery-managed sportsbooks in other jurisdictions
States that went with a lottery-run model tend to rake in less revenue than their counterparts with competitive, open markets. We’re seeing this in a number of states that went with the single-brand, monopolized model.
Oregon is one of these states, but Governor Kate Brown is looking towards implementing the competitive model while keeping the system that’s currently in place. ScoreBoard, Oregon’s sole sports betting app, does provide a bit of revenue to the state (around $20 million in 2020), but lost over $4 million in its first year. Brown’s pre-filed HB 2127 is a sign that there’s definite interest in opening up the marketplace.
We’re seeing in other jurisdictions with the lottery model such as Washington DC, that poor pricing and clunky interfaces have caused reality to fall well short of expectations. DC bettors can look forward to paying nearly double for a bet than they would at a sportsbook in the competitive model– some analysts argue that the lottery model will even push bettors to find better prices at offshore (read: illegal) betting sites.
Other states using the lottery model for a single sports betting app include New Hampshire and Rhode Island, which have fared slightly better.
Pandemic woes changing Cuomo’s tune
Before the devastating public health crisis COVID-19 that began to press down on New York’s economy in 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo gave quite a bit of pushback regarding online wagering of any kind, saying everything from “I don’t think it happens now” to dismissing New Jersey’s reported tax revenue as a “rounding error” (for a New York-sized budget). Now that the state’s economy has taken a massive blow, Cuomo has come around.
Remember those four casinos from before? Recent comments from Gov. Cuomo’s 2021 agenda have suggested that he’s opening up to online betting, stating that “one or more providers” could offer mobile sports wagering. This means that New York, a heavily populated state, may go with a state-run sports betting platform in the footsteps of much smaller markets like Delaware and Oregon.
These comments also might mean that the above four partners (DraftKings et al.) could offer their wagering platforms in the state: still, this limited market doesn’t create the same kind of competition (and therefore the same kind of revenue) that we see in neighboring states. Confusingly, soon after the Governor’s comments in the 2021 State of the State agenda, he doubled down on his preference for a state-run, monopolized sportsbook in an interview with industry pros.
Across the Hudson, NJ online betting rakes in cash
There is a competitive online sports betting market on the other side of the Lincoln Tunnel and George Washington Bridge leading to New Jersey, and the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has NY lawmakers feeling the economic drain. In December 2020, betting providers in New Jersey took in $66.4 million, generating over $7 million tax revenue for the state in the month alone: compare that to a paltry $2.3M monthwide take from New York, and it becomes a bit clearer why Addabbo and Pretlow would push for an open market.
The research supporting an open market is readily available, but Cuomo still doesn’t seem convinced. VIXIO GamblingCompliance, a regulatory expert in the betting industry, projects that New York online sports betting could rake in a record-breaking $700 million in revenue, more than tripling Nevada’s massive $252 million take for 2017. You’d think these numbers would be enticing, as New York expects to lose $61 billion in overall revenue in the coming four years as a direct result of COVID-19, but messaging from up top continues to suggest that the online betting market in the Empire State will be limited to a small number of operators, if not one.
Senator Addabbo’s updated version of the online sports betting framework, S1183, again proposes amendments to the NY Code allowing for up to 14 operators, with Pretlow pushing similar measures in the Assembly. The argument for S1183 is that it will create jobs for NY’s already struggling workforce, as Cuomo’s version of online betting would create far fewer new jobs (or zero: if the lottery model is implemented, there’s already a built-in staff). S1183 would implement an 8.5% tax rate on gross sports wagering revenues and a 12% tax rate on mobile wagers.
Tribal agreements and sports betting
The relationship between the U.S. government and the Native American tribes that preceded it is fraught with complexity, and gambling is a core component of that relationship. To put it simply, federal law written in the 1980’s indicates that tribes can enter into a compact with state governments to offer gambling, but they’re mostly operating of their own volition.
An example of this occurred between the Oneida Indian Nation in NY and Caesars Entertainment, wherein the two entered a partnership to offer sports betting kiosks at three Oneida casino locations. There was no specific language or provision in the aforementioned constitutional amendment allowing for tribal casinos, but due to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, there doesn’t have to be. Tribes in some cases may have revenue sharing arrangements with the state, but cannot be subject to taxes. In any case, they can move forward with sports betting if it’s been made available to commercial properties (see above) without needing specific approval from the state.
When online sports betting finally does eventually go live in New York, funding and withdrawing money from your online sports betting account is typically pretty straightforward. You’ll have access to a variety of payment methods, likely including:
- PayPal: When available, you can make deposits and withdrawals with the most popular online wallet in the world, PayPal.
- ACH/eCheck (VIP Preferred): VIP Preferred is a third-party online check processor and online wallet, and is a secure way to make payments or receive withdrawals from your checking account to/from an online sports betting account.
- Play+ Card: The Play+ card is a prepaid card service offered by many online sportsbooks, and works like a regular debit card at most merchants. This is often the best way to use online wallets with your preferred sportsbook if no other options are available.
- Skrill: Skrill is similar to PayPal and is a third-party online wallet and payment processor. Initially popular in the UK, Skrill often partners with online casinos and sports betting platforms in the US.
- PayNearMe: The following options are in-person options. PayNearMe is a service sometimes offered at local merchants, which enables users to visit locations like 7-Eleven, CVS, and more to make deposits/withdrawals to/from your account.
- Cash at Cage: If your preferred online sportsbook is partnered with a casino location (which it should be if it’s legitimate), you will be able to visit that casino and do your banking in person.
Whenever you’re banking with a real-money online sportsbook, take a look at the terms and conditions. In many cases, you’ll be limited to certain withdrawal methods based on the deposit method you used previously, in addition to terms about bank transfers and other nuggets of useful, necessary info.
Frequently asked questions
Is sports betting legal in the state of New York?
Yes, in-person sports betting is legal in New York. Online sports betting is in the works for the state, but isn’t yet available.
Who can place a real-money sports bet in New York?
Real-money sports betting is limited to users who are 21+ and physically located in the state of New York. If you’d like to access your account and use other features while not in New York, you’ll have access to those through mobile wagering apps, but you will only be allowed to place a real-money sports wager when you are in the state.
How many online sportsbooks will be available in New York?
This is still up for debate, but there will be anywhere from one to fourteen sportsbooks available in New York. If Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal moves forward, the state will go with a lottery-managed, monopolized model with just one sportsbook. If the joint proposal from the Senate and Assembly is approved, there could be as many as 14 available sportsbook licenses in New York.
Will mobile sportsbooks offer bonuses for new players?
Possibly. Mobile sportsbooks will often have welcome offers like deposit match bonuses and “risk-free” bets to entice new users to join with the service. However, if New York goes with the state-run, lottery model of mobile betting, they won’t necessarily have to offer a welcome bonus, so time will tell.
How will I deposit/withdraw online?
Depositing online will require you to share some personal information with a potential provider at signup, including SSN and other identifying information. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to make a deposit with a number of banking services, detailed above in the “Banking options” section.
What bet types and betting markets will be available?
Regardless of which model gets implemented, the basics should become available: point spreads, moneyline, props for all major pro sports leagues and NCAA collegiate sports events. But the more sportsbooks to hit the market, the wider the options will be.