New York followed many other states in the US by introducing a regulated sports betting sector in 2019. But online sports betting remains off limits to residents, despite a thriving internet sports betting industry in neighbouring New Jersey.
Three tribal casinos, along with four commercial casinos are now offering sportsbook services, though all are situated upstate. But the commercial venues pulled in a meagre $2.2 million worth of revenue during the month of October, which compared unfavourably to New Jersey’s $46.4 million. And even more galling for New York operators, much of that New Jersey revenue would have been generated by New York residents cross the state lines to wager on sport.
Progress towards changing the situation has been slow. Two New York state representatives put forward a sports betting bill in 2019. The bill would have expanded the scope of sports betting to include a range of new facilities such as racetracks and sports stadia, as well authorizing online sports betting. The bill breezed through the New York state senate, but amid speculation that Governor Andrew Cuomo was likely to veto it, the bill was parked.
The problem is a constitutional one. Some, including Cuomo, are of the opinion that mobile sports betting can only be authorized through a constitutional amendment, which would need a public vote. Although legal arguments to the contrary have been presented, it seems that the state governor is not convinced and that remains the main obstacle.
But the good news is that the bill will not have to be reintroduced and can be brought forward for a final vote at any time. The New York Gaming Commission are also set to produce a report on the potential income from a regulated online betting sector in the state in 2020, which could put further pressure on Cuomo to put his support behind the existing bill.