New York State Gaming Commission Still Dragging Feet on Sports Betting

Posted By Bart Shirley on July 17, 2018

A recent meeting of the New York State Gaming Commission yielded a brief conversation about sports betting, and nothing more. So, New Yorkers remain stuck with limited choices for sports betting – either Meadowlands, Monmouth Park, or Atlantic City.

None of those choices are particularly appealing for upstate residents, who are probably wondering what the problem is. The official word is that regulators are continuing to craft the framework for offering sports wagering.

Bear in mind, the New York law to legalize sports betting is not a new one. Voters agreed to allow sports betting in casinos back in 2013.

That legalization was contingent upon a federal change of law. We have that now – but still no New York sports betting.

What are the Gaming Commission’s concerns?

In the most recent meeting, acting executive director Ron Ochrym mentioned several questions regulators have causing the delay. They are:

  • Does the existing law allow mobile wagering under its current language?
  • If so, how many skins should regulators allow online casinos to maintain?
  • Should regulations require casinos to use official league data to resolve proposition wagers?

Ochrym added that the commission would seek industry opinions for those questions. He also stressed the need to craft sensible regulations.

The mobile wagering question is the most legit and problematic

Regardless of the commission’s methodical pace, its concern about the language of the law as it relates to mobile wagering is valid. The New York State Gaming Commission cannot make new law under any circumstances.

The current law has two clauses that pertain to the question:

  • A sports pool shall be operated in a sports wagering lounge located at a casino.
  • An operator shall accept wagers on sports events only from persons physically present in the sports wagering lounge.

The exact locations specified in the law would seem to prohibit mobile wagering at this time. Unfortunately, the 2013 law passed prior to the rise of mobile gaming, so it did not carve out any kind of exemption or exception.

New York lawmakers in the know will likely address this narrowness soon. At the moment, however, the regulators’ question about skins is likely moot.

The question about official data is more frustrating than anything else. It is possible that regulators have heard the siren call from the sports leagues regarding integrity fees and data control. Let’s hope that’s not the case.

Time is somewhat of the essence

While New York struggles to get sports betting off the ground, it is losing players to neighboring states. Both Delaware and New Jersey already have sports betting in place.

As mentioned above, New Jersey’s situation is especially problematic for New York’s interests. The FanDuel Sportsbook at Meadowlands Racetrack is a scant 6 miles from New York City.

Once mobile wagering gets off the ground in the Garden State, the distance to bet in New Jersey will be even shorter. People could drive across the river, park their cars, and bet as much as they like.

It’s not like companies aren’t interested in New York, either. FanDuel already has an agreement in place with Tioga Downs by virtue of its Meadowlands deal.

This week, DraftKings announced a similar partnership with Del Lago Casino & Resort. So, everyone is ready, but we’re still waiting.

There could be eight states with sports betting by the time New York lawmakers return to session. New York could be #9, but it’s not looking good right now.

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Bart Shirley

Bart Shirley is a writer who covers the NJ online gambling and sports betting industries as well as a poker player from Houston, Texas. He has a master's degree in business administration from Texas Christian University and a degree in English from Texas A&M. In his spare time, Bart teaches math and business at Memorial High School in Houston.

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