New York

Sports Betting in New York

It’s ironic that New York—and particularly New York City—has always been considered a state synonymous with gambling. The Empire State was the first to enact a constitutional ban on gambling in 1821 and additional regulatory guidelines were implemented in 1864 and 1894 to further eliminate ‘loopholes’. The state began to liberalize their gambling regulations in the early 20th Century but it would be the influence of Native American tribes in New York and other states that provided the impetus for the relatively positive environment that exists today.

New York was awarded statehood in 1788 but it would not be until their second constitution that they addressed the issue of gambling. The constitution ratified in 1821 contains a fairly explicit ban on all forms of gambling. In 1864, New York took aim at the privately run ‘lotteries’ that were popular throughout the country at the time. In 1894, the anti-gambling regulations were further refined leaving New York without any legal form of gambling.

What New York saw as ‘legislating morality’ was seen by organized crime as a ‘market opportunity’. The prohibitionist laws against gambling and alcohol lasted until the end of the 1930s and not coincidentally so did the peak of organized crime activity in the US. In New York, the ‘mob families’ helped facilitate gambling on a massive scale and in numerous forms including numbers running, sports and horse bookmaking, poker and card games as well as elaborate casinos featuring poker games and slots.

Learning from the error of their ways, New York began a slow but steady process of legalizing gambling in the state. In 1939, horse racing was the most popular sport in the country and as a result parimutuel wagering was the first form of gambling to become legal. In 1957, bingo games and raffles for charities were legalized. In 1966, the New York State Lottery was established and in 1973 a state level oversight bureaucracy for horse racing was established.

Twenty years later, the push for broader casino gambling in New York would begin. The 1988 Federal ‘Indian Gaming Regulation Act’ established a framework for tribal casinos and in 1993 they were authorized by the state of New York. The first to open was the Oneida Tribe which opened Turning Stone Casino in the Central part of the state close to Syracuse. A number of tribes would follow and meanwhile horse racing tracks in New York would be authorized to offer slot machines. In 2013, an amendment was passed to authorized non-tribal casinos on the pretense of economic development for upstate New York, specifically the Catskills region.

Today, casino gambling options are abundant. Factoring in commercial casinos, tribal casinos and horse race track gaming there are approximately 25 properties in the state offering casino games. The tribal casinos continue to offer the widest variety of gaming options including live poker. The New York State Lottery is a lucrative source of revenue for the state with a mix of draw and scratch off instant games.

Most recently, it appears that New York could be one of the next states to offer sports betting. In 2013, the state authorized on-site betting at four locations. The hope is that these four locations could be authorized for sports betting ‘in the short term’ with a wider scale rollout forthcoming once the legislation and regulations are in place.

Sports Betting in New York City

New York City might be ‘the city that doesn’t sleep’ but officially at least it’s also been for much of its existance ‘the city that doesn’t gamble’. There’s been a huge underground gambling scene in New York City since the early 1800’s and although it’s not as prevalent as it once was it continues today. What New York considered a matter of ‘legislating morality’ was seen as a ‘market opportunity’ by underground gambling entrepreneurs including organized crime. The prohibitionist laws against gambling and alcohol lasted until the end of the 1930s and not coincidentally so did the peak of organized crime activity in the US. In New York, the ‘mob families’ helped facilitate gambling on a massive scale and in numerous forms including numbers running, sports and horse bookmaking, poker and card games as well as elaborate casinos featuring poker games and slots. There’s still some low level organized crime activity related to gambling today but much of this underground economy is controlled by ‘independent contractors’ with much of their effort focused on ‘members only’ high stakes poker.

The state began a slow but steady process of legalizing gambling in the state and until recently New York City was the primary beneficiary. In 1939, horse racing was the most popular sport in the country and as a result parimutuel wagering was the first form of gambling to become legal. New York City was a big part of that scene and today live racing is run at Aqueduct and Belmont Park. For many years, Roosevelt Raceway on Long Island was one of the top tracks in harness racing until its closure in 1988. In 1957, bingo games and raffles for charities were legalized. In 1966, the New York State Lottery was established and in 1973 a state level oversight bureaucracy for horse racing was established.

Twenty years later, the push for broader casino gambling in New York would begin and this would open up gaming options in the state outside of New York City The 1988 Federal ‘Indian Gaming Regulation Act’ established a framework for tribal casinos and in 1993 they were authorized by the state of New York. The first to open was the Oneida Tribe which opened Turning Stone Casino in the Central part of the state close to Syracuse. A number of tribes would follow and meanwhile horse racing tracks in New York would be authorized to offer slot machines. In 2013, an amendment was passed to authorized non-tribal casinos on the pretense of economic development for upstate New York, specifically the Catskills region.

Today, casino gambling options are abundant statewide. Factoring in commercial casinos, tribal casinos and horse race track gaming there are approximately 25 properties in the state offering casino games. The tribal casinos continue to offer the widest variety of gaming options including live poker. There is a large Resort Worlds Casino property affiliated with Aqueduct Racetrack near JFK Airport. There’s also an increasing number of casino gambling opportunities in neighboring states with gaming destinations like Atlantic City and Foxwoods Casino just two hours away.

Most recently, it appears that New York could be one of the next states to offer sports betting. In 2013, the state authorized on-site betting at four locations. The hope is that these four locations could be authorized for sports betting ‘in the short term’ with a wider scale rollout forthcoming once the legislation and regulations are in place. In the meantime, sports betting is available in New Jersey and down the coast a bit in Delaware.

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