New York Casino Sportsbooks Opening in May

The statue of Liberty and New York skyline
The four New York upstate commercial casinos will be able to open up their sportsbooks come May 2019.

30-second summary:

  • Four upstate casinos in New York can legally offer sports betting following the ending of the federal ban
  • The Gaming Commission has now published regulations for sports betting in the state
  • Governor Cuomo is against legal mobile sports betting
  • A 60-day waiting period has to end before the casinos can offer sports betting

Road to allowing casino sportsbooks

There has been a strong push to expand upon the existing gambling laws in New York. Among this has been a demand for the widespread legalization of sports betting and online poker. However, there have been a number of obstacles to date regarding these issues.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has, however, given the green light for sportsbooks to open at the four commercial casinos in upstate New York. On January 15, 2019 during his State of the State address, he said: “Let’s authorize sports betting in the upstate casinos. It’s here. It’s a reality, and it will generate activity in those casinos.”

The reason this is allowable without passage of a bill is due to a piece of legislation from 2013. That legislation allows the four commercial casinos to offer sports betting without needing any further approval. It says that once sports betting is not under a federal ban then it can be offered at these casinos.

The federal ban came to an end in May 2018 following a Supreme Court decision. Many states have since legalized sports betting and seen decent success. New York casinos are hoping sports betting will help boost their revenues.

The casinos in question are the Del Lago Resort, Tioga Downs, the Rivers Casino and the Resorts World Catskills. Many other states are planning to legalize sports betting in 2019, so these four casinos are looking to get into the sector while it is still relatively in its infancy.

Commercial casino stance

The four upstate casinos have been struggling to hit revenue targets since they got licenses in 2015. None of them has yet hit their annual revenue target, a key reason for this being due to their location. As they are in obscure places in the middle of nowhere, it has a significant impact on the number of visitors they attract.

When they open sportsbooks, there will be a lot more hype and excitement to attract people. There is a large appetite for sports betting in New York. Countless people cross over to New Jersey from New York each week in order to place sports bets.

When these casinos open their sportsbooks, these people likely will go there instead. This is especially the case if it is only these four casinos in New York that are able to offer sports betting.

The casinos will not make much profit off these sportsbooks, but they will attract gamblers who will play other casino games and stay at the hotels. Therefore, they will indirectly make money from sports betting.

No mobile sports betting for now

The push to open up sports betting even wider is ongoing. However, it looks like for now that mobile sports betting will not become a reality in 2019. Cuomo is against legal mobile sports betting and did not include it in his budget proposal.

He does not believe that the revenues for mobile sports betting will be of much significance in a state like New York.  Cuomo is happy for the upstate casinos to offer sports betting as it will help their bottom line.

He said: “We have sports betting that you can do through a casino and we are trying to support our casinos, which, you know, we did primarily upstate as an economic development vehicle. I’ve never been crazy about casinos, but life is options.

“Many upstate communities, we have a prison industry or nothing. So the casinos, especially the way we did it, they are high-paying jobs, they’re jobs with mobility, this would help fortify the upstate casinos.”

Opening of casino sportsbooks on the horizon

The official rules for sports betting at the casinos in New York were made public by the state Gaming Commission. This means that the casinos in upstate New York will be able to start accepting sports bets by the Memorial Day weekend.

The rules were published on March 20 and there will now be a 60-day period in which the public can provide feedback on them. If no major issues arise, the non-tribal casinos will be able to proceed with sports betting. This means that the casinos may start the development of their sports betting lounges in anticipation of the end of the 60-day period.

The casinos are also permitted to have automatic sports bet machines on their facilities, via which they can also accept bets. A number of the tribal casinos in the state are also contemplating sports betting in the future.