New York’s sports bettors could have legal wagering options this spring after state gaming regulators approved draft betting rules.
On Monday, the New York State Gaming Commission approved draft regulations that will allow four upstate commercial casinos to add retail sportsbooks to their properties. The regulations, which have the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, are now subject to a 60-day public comment period, potentially allowing for the launch of legal wagering in early April (too late for March Madness, but just in time for baseball).
Monday’s meeting saw the draft rules approved unanimously and without comment by any commissioner. Those with experience following the state’s regulatory meetings have grown accustomed to the pace of the proceedings, which often seem to be conducted with the suspicion that there’s a ticking time-bomb underneath the table.
New York’s plans don’t specifically include tribal gaming operators, who insist their gaming compacts with the state allow them to maintain product parity with commercial operators. Some tribes, like the Oneida Indian Nation, have already struck prospective sports betting deals with technology partners.
All four upstate casinos have already struck their own betting partnerships, and the arrival of wagering can’t come quick enough, given the contrast between their original lofty revenue projections and their current anemic revenue figures. Just last week, Empire Resorts announced it was shutting down the slots operations at its Monticello Casino & Raceway in order to avoid cannibalizing slots activity at its newer, flashier Resorts World Catskills property.
Sadly, the draft regulations don’t allow operators to offer online or mobile betting. The 2013 legislation that authorized the four upstate casinos offering betting made no mention of digital wagering and introducing that option would require new legislation and quite likely a voter referendum to amend the state constitution. The casinos will be allowed to offer automated betting kiosks but only within the confines of their sports betting ‘lounges.’