Published: June 5, 2018

Sports betting in New York: The latest on if and when it will happen

ALBANY -- If and when New Yorkers will be able to bet on sports remains uncertain with just 11 days left in the legislative session.

The uncertainty has prompted visits to the state Capitol by two legendary Yankees managers: Joe Girardi last week and Joe Torre on Monday.

Torre told reporters he wants to ensure that any law in New York protects the integrity of baseball. Major League Baseball and other sports leagues are lobbying state lawmakers for a piece of the betting pot, as well as safeguards that protect their games.

"When you open it up to all the people who would be involved in sports betting, there are some potholes out there," Torre, who won four titles with the Yankees and was also in town to also be honored by the state Conference of Italian-American State Legislators.

"And I want to do my part in just letting you know how I feel and the passion I have for this sport and of course all the fans who have enjoyed it all these years."

Torre, a Brooklyn native, is now an executive with Major League Baseball.


New York is debating how to proceed with sports betting after the U.S. Supreme Court last month lifted a federal sports-betting ban.

States are on the clock. Delaware expects to start taking bets as early as Tuesday, and New Jersey may pass a law this week to allow for it.

But in New York, the process has moved more slowly as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has cautioned that a law may not be attainable before the legislative session ends June 20.

The Republican-led Senate wants to pass a bill sponsored by Racing Committee chairman John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, Orange County, but the GOP is currently functioning without its narrow majority with one member absent.

In the Democratic-led Assembly, some members have raised concerns about the societal impacts of sports betting.

But if other states are moving forward, New York should too, Bonacic said.

Since New York already has casinos and the largest lottery in the nation, "Let’s do it the right way, expand it to the limit we’re allowed by law and have the money go to education and give the people (options on) how they want to spend their money on recreation," Bonacic said last week.

Bonacic's bill would allow mobile sports betting and expand in-person betting to Off-Track Betting facilities that partner with one of the casinos.

Casinos would pay a tax of 8.5 percent of gross revenues from sports wagering, while the sports leagues would get up to .25 percent -- a cut they support.

Leagues will incur costs to monitor sports betting and make sure there are no illegal activities among players, said Morgan Sword, MLB's senior vice president for league economics and operations.

"We no longer have control over whether there will be sports betting or not," Sword, who was with Torre said.

"Frankly, the way the wind is blowing, we expect many states to move forward. So we are trying to operate the best we can in a world with widespread sports betting."

New York already has a 2013 law on the books that allows sports betting at its four upstate casinos.

But the law is limited, such as only allowing bets in person at the four casinos in the Catskills; Albany area; Finger Lakes and Southern Tier.

Meanwhile, Native American casinos in western and central New York will also be allowed to start sports betting, they contend. But it's unclear if and when they would move forward.

Because of the law that allows the four casinos to have sports betting, the state Gaming Commission indicated last month it is in the process of developing regulations.

© Public Gaming Research Institute. All rights reserved.