If sports’ gambling becomes legal in the state of New York this year, it will likely be limited, at least initially.
A gambler will have to be physically present within one of four of Upstate New York’s casinos. Players can also be present at one of the six casinos operated by the Oneida or Seneca Indian nations to place a wager.
Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, put a stop to legal sports betting in 2018. The governor later endorsed sports betting recently during his budget proposal and 2019 State of the State. However, Cuomo’s plan only permits wagers by individuals who place their bets in person at an authorized casino.
Robert Mujica, Cuomo’s budget director, recently stated that the Cuomo administration feels that extending sports gambling beyond the physical space of the casino would be a violation of New York’s constitution. For the time being, this would prohibit betting online or at other locations such as racetracks, reacinos, or Off Track Betting parlors.
Mujica stated “if we want to expand it anywhere else but the land-based casinos, including online…you need a constitutional amendment. That’s a separate conversation.”
Amending the New York constitution can be a challenging and lengthy process. Changes have to be approved by two successive legislative sessions before the changes are sent to voters. This process could take at least three years.
New York has been in a time crunch to decide what to do about sports gambling since May 2018, when the Supreme Court removed a federal law that banned any other states besides Nevada from providing sports books. Since that time, seven additional states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, which border New York, have opened sports books. Internet betting is legal in New Jersey and is predicted to become available to Pennsylvania gamblers soon.
This is what concerns State Senator Joseph Addaboo a Queens Democrat. Addaboo became the chair of the Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee when the Democratic Party took over the Senate after the recent election. The senator has introduced a bill that would permit online and remote location sports betting. However, Addabbo hedged his bets by sponsoring a second bill. The second bill would begin the process to change the New York constitution. The senator stated that he is seeking legal opinions on what he referred to as an interpretation that internet betting needs a constitutional amendment. He stated, “ I think we need to maximize the potential, and do it right but do it quickly. Other states are taking our money. We need to maximize this to get our share of the revenues and create jobs.”
Current New York Laws
The state of New York currently has a law that was passed in 2013 that permits sports gambling on a limited basis at the casinos that are authorized for gambling. As the law is written, it permits sports betting on- site at Resorts World Catskills in Sullivan County. The law also allows sports gambling at del Lago Resort and Casino, which is near Waterloo in the Finger Lakes, Tioga Downs, which is west of Southern Tier’s Binghamton and Rivers Casino and Resort in Schenectady. The law does not permit off-site or online betting, and does not allow wagers on college teams in New York. Betting is also not allowed for events that take place in New York.
The Oneida Indian Nation, a casino that operates the Turning Stone, Point Place, and Yellow Brick Road said that it would soon open its sports books at those locations. This will occur as soon as New York permits them at the private casinos. The Senecas currently have three New York casinos, and will likely do the same, although the Senecas have not made their intentions known to the public.
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