New York is a piece of America most famous for its culture, immigrant history, towering skyscrapers, yellow cabs, and pizza. One thing it is not renowned for the world over is gambling, as the state lottery was the most established form of this activity in The Empire State for the longest time. Yes, Upstate New York offered Native American gaming venues, and the region boasts four high-end race tracks, but the state lacked an abundance of Class II commercial casinos and betting sites that pay real money.
However, that is changing as, over the past couple of years, talks have increased of other gaming establishments getting allowed to spring up in New York City and compete with Resorts World. Also, in January 2022, the New York State Gaming Commission granted mobile betting licenses to BetRivers, DraftKings, and FanDuel, letting these operators supply online sportsbook action to New Yorkers. That said, no gambling sites that feature classic table games and virtual reel-spinners have yet to be allowed in one of the homes of Niagara Falls, and likely the most culturally diverse spot in the country.
Below, a short examination follows regarding the current state of online gambling in New York and what residents of the fourth-most populous state in the United States can expect to encounter on this front in the coming years.
How Is Online Sports Betting in New York Doing?
Gambling historians likely know that New York was the place of one of the world’s most famed internet gambling busts that went down in 2011 when the Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York filed indictments against Absolute Poker, Full Tilt Poker, and PokerStars. The move eventually ran the latter business entity out of the American market, generating close to $550 million for the US government in fines via this event now labeled as Black Friday.
Four years after this happened, disputes about online daily fantasy sports emerged, with the state’s Attorney General arguing that the practice violated state law. And following years of continuous debates, the COVID-19 pandemic created massive budget shortfalls that forced New York officials to consider legalizing internet sports betting, falling in line with much of the rest of the country.
What many do not know about New York is that the state passed a bill that made sports gambling legal five years before the fall of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act that maintained a federal ban on this practice. Though New York launched its first retail sportsbook in mid-2019, mobile betting went live in January 2022, making NY the eighteenth US territory to do so, with nine operators active in this field in The Empire State.
When New York officially allowed licensed companies to offer internet sports wagering services, New Jersey seized the title of the nation’s market leader by accepting around $2.4 billion in wagers in the first five weeks.
Right now, mobile sports betting is doing terrifically well in New York, with the handle going up to $460 million for the week ending March 19, thanks to March Madness, the highest it has ever been since the Super Bowl. In January, New Yorkers wagered over $400 million, with FanDuel dominating the online market, with around a 40% share.
The stunning success of internet betting in New York has led to the state grabbing more than $700 million in taxes in 2022. That number has created rumblings about its regulator issuing new licenses and further expanding this sphere.
Will Online Casinos Come to the Empire State Soon?
In 2013, New Jersey became the first US region to allow online casinos, thanks to a 2011 Department of Justice interpretation of the Interstate Wire Act of 1961. From then on, only five more states followed suit. Slot machines are the most played online casino game, generating most of the sector’s profits. And they are the dominant driving force for New York’s online casino outlook, which looks bleak despite a recent iCasino bill introduced.
For various reasons, interactive gaming receives much more pushback from legislators, as it seldom gets done on the first shot. Under the suggested SB 4856, online casino licenses would be reserved for operators of commercial/tribal/racetrack venues and sportsbooks, plus a bidding process would be held to determine three more additional approvals. That would bring the total number of interactive gaming licenses to twenty-four. The associated fee for this privilege would be $2 million or $10 million, depending on the branding structure, and each operator would get taxed at a rate of 30.5%.
Note the NY Senate passed multiple online poker bills in 2016 and 2017. Yet, only some believe the online casino bill sponsored by State Sen. Joseph Addabbo will be passed in 2023. Doubts persist that any legislation on this front will get successfully introduced soon.