Legal sports betting is on its way to neighboring New York. Sort of.

But it looks like New Yorkers will still be coming to New Jersey to place bets for a while. That is unless dramatic changes are made to New York’s state law.

During his State of the State speech this week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo indicated he intends to use tax revenue from sports betting to help close a $3.1 billion fiscal gap in the state’s $170 billion budget this year:

“We invested in upstate casinos. Let’s authorize sports betting in the upstate casinos. It’s here, it’s a reality and it will help generate activity in those casinos.”

But that good news was followed by more tempered news, keeping sports betting in New Jersey as the spot for placing legal bets in the region.

NY sports betting laws lag behind NJ

New York already has a 2013 law on the books authorizing the state’s four new upstate commercial casinos to offer sports betting on site.

However, that law does not authorize the launch of online and mobile sports betting in NY.

Additionally, compacts between the state and the Oneida and Seneca tribes allow tribal casinos in NY to offer the same forms of gambling as these commercial operations. But that’s about it so far.

Despite that 2013 law, NY has yet to launch sports betting, whereas NJ sports betting is moving forward at a fast pace.

Playing the waiting game

New York casinos have been waiting for the NYS Gaming Commission to put together sports betting regulations to govern the industry as prescribed by the law.

However, it appears the commission has been waiting to see if state lawmakers will pass legislation authorizing sports betting at alternative locations first, including racetracks, racinos, and off-track betting parlors.

Or, they could be waiting to see if the state legalizes online and mobile sports betting.

A few efforts were made in this regard in 2018, but all failed.

Setting up sports betting deals

While operators of most of the 10 casinos are waiting, they are getting their ducks in a row.

All four commercial casinos have now entered into partnerships with various sports betting suppliers:

The Oneida tribe also inked a sports betting deal with Caesars Entertainment.

NJ online sportsbooks for the New Yorker

The governor’s comments have certainly sparked interest for the casinos looking to launch into the sports betting sphere.

But for mobile sportsbooks and apps in the Empire State, those will have to wait.

Cuomo’s budget director essentially told USA Today reporter Jon Campbell that broad sports betting in NJ’s northern neighbor will require a constitutional change:

For now, that means sports betting could launch at as many as 10 commercial and native casino locations in NY this year. But the chances that sportsbooks open outside these casinos, or online sports betting launches in 2019, appear quite slim.

New Jersey’s sportsbook apps, retail sportsbooks close to New York, and the state of New Jersey itself will continue to reap the rewards of getting legal sports betting launched ahead of their slow-moving neighbors in NY.

Case in point: The FanDuel Sportsbook at Meadowlands Racetrack is the top-grossing retail sportsbook in New Jersey. And for obvious reasons: It’s less than a half an hour from Manhattan.

Plus, mobile sportsbooks now account for more than 60 percent of the NJ market.

This is likely because the minute anyone from the massive New York market puts a toe in the Garden State, they will find nine NJ mobile sportsbooks offering lines on almost any sport.

Bottom line, with the way things stand in New York right now, New Jersey is happy to take their legal bets when they come for a visit.

Martin Derbyshire

About

In his over 10 years covering the US online poker, legal NJ online gambling, and land-based casino industries, Martin Derbyshire has worn the hats of award-winning journalist and video and film producer. He has logged countless miles reporting on the world of high stakes gambling.