Andrew J Winchell, chief of staff to New York State Senator John J Bonacic, who serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Racing, offers SBC Americas an exclusive update on the state of play for sports betting in New York State.

New York Sports Betting Update

Five years ago, approval of commercial gaming in New York was still pending a public referendum and New Jersey’s initial legislation to authorize sports betting had been struck down by the courts. Since that time, dramatic progress has been made in the legalization of commercial gaming and sports betting in New York State, and more is expected to come.

How did we get here?

In 2013 the voters of New York ratified a constitutional amendment to authorize casino gaming, and the enacting legislation which went along with it included a provision to allow for individuals to place wagers on sports events at Casinos, in the event that there was a change in federal law, or a ruling by a court of competent jurisdiction, to authorize it.

In 2016 the New York State legislature passing a comprehensive regulatory scheme for fantasy sports which was sponsored by Senator John Bonacic, Chairman of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee.

Coming on the heels of the fantasy sports legislation, in 2017, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear New Jersey’s challenge to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). This set the stage for the New York State Legislature to contemplate revising its existing sports betting statute when the legislative session convened in January 2018.

Where are we now?

Between January and June 2018 there was a flurry of activity in New York on sports betting under the presumption that the Supreme Court would deem PASPA unconstitutional. The Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering held a hearing early in the year and legislation was introduced by Senator Bonacic to provide a comprehensive regulatory framework for sports betting in New York.

Senator Bonacic’s legislation expands the authorization for sports betting in New York to include mobile sports betting and the provision of self-service sports betting kiosks at licensed racetracks and off-track betting facilities. It also addresses the issues of fees paid to sports governing bodies, the use of “official league data”, the sharing of data for integrity monitoring and investigations, the ability of leagues to weigh in on the types of bets that are offered.

This legislation was the result of significant discussions with all stakeholders and moved through the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, but at the end of the legislative session it did not make it to a vote of the full Senate.

What’s Next?

With the State Legislature not passing legislation, action can still take place this year with the State Gaming Commission promulgating regulations on the offering of sports betting in person at the four commercial casinos in New York. They have yet to put such regulations forward however, and did not address the subject at their most recent meeting on September 24. At this point it seems most likely that the next significant development in New York will not happen until the legislature reconvenes in January 2019 and will look to take this issue up again.