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New York launches legal sports betting at upstate Rivers Casino

NY first bet

And you bet, baby: If sports betting can make it there, you know, sportsbooks are gonna make it just about anywhere. Come on, come through New York, New York!

The wait is finally over: sports betting has arrived in New York.

Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady opened the state’s first sportsbook Tuesday morning after receiving approval from State Gaming Commission officials minutes before the scheduled ribbon-cutting ceremony. 

New York becomes the 10th state to offer legal sports betting in its jurisdiction, joining Arkansas, Delaware, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.

How did Rivers Casino open a sportsbook?

In 2013, New York lawmakers passed a law to amend the state constitution to allow sports betting at four upstate casinos  — Rivers Casino, Tioga Downs, Resorts World Catskills, and del Lago Casino — and the state’s tribal casinos should the federal ban be lifted.

The Supreme Court ruled PASPA to be unconstitutional in May 2018, granting all states the right to choose whether to legalize sports betting. States can now join the previously exempted Nevada in offering sportsbooks to residents and visitors inside their respective jurisdictions.

After a year full of delays — including a bill legalizing online and mobile sports betting failing to pass in the Assembly — the State Gaming Commission approved the licenses for the four upstate casinos in June.

Reports surfaced this past week that Rivers Casino would be the first to open its sportsbook in New York with a launch scheduled for July 16.

Mobile is a no-go

New Yorkers will need to wait until at least 2020 before mobile sports betting can be brought back to the legislative table after the bill died in the Assembly.

Gov. Cuomo has repeatedly said the addition of mobile sports betting would require an amendment to the state constitution, a process that would take a minimum of two years. 

Supporters of legalizing the online and mobile market in New York disagreed with the governor, arguing that the only requirement would be the passage of a new bill. 

“I’ve been trying to convince them that is totally untrue,” Assemblyman Gary Pretlow said while his bill was in committee. “They’re losing tens of millions of dollars [to New Jersey] if we don’t do this.”

NJ dominates the Northeast market

Even if New York can get Gov. Cuomo to change his mind, the Empire State will face an uphill battle against New Jersey. The Garden State has shown that online and mobile sports betting is what the market demands. 

In June, New Jersey generated $273 million — 83% coming from online and mobile — in total wagers, resulting in $9.7 million in sports betting revenue and $1.3 million in taxes for the state. 

Since launching in 2018, New Jersey sportsbooks have seen $3.2 billion in wagers, profiting $203.7 million in revenue and generating $26.3 million in taxes to the state.

If lawmakers can convince Gov. Cuomo, then New York could be on equal ground with New Jersey in 2020. If not, then don’t expect New Yorkers to have access to wagering on smartphones and tablets until 2022 at the earliest.

Assemblyman Pretlow placed the first bet today and tweeted he’s confident New York will have mobile apps for sports wagering this time next year.

NY sports betting details

With New York’s first sportsbook now accepting action at Rivers Casino, here’s everything bettors need to know before placing a real money wager on sports in the state.

Where can I bet in New York?

Rivers Casino is the first to open with its newly constructed Rivers Sportsbook betting lounge, which is operated by Rush Street Gaming.

The lounge covers 5,000-square-feet of floor space with room to accommodate approximately 80 guests in addition to an 18-person VIP area, 14 betting kiosks and six windows with tellers.

Tioga Downs in Nichols partnered with FanDuel to run its sportsbook and is scheduled to have a soft launch tomorrow with its official opening to come Friday, July 19 at 2:30 pm ET.

There is no word yet on when del Lago Casino in Waterloo, partnered with DraftKings, or Resorts World Catskills in Monticello, partnered with bet365, will open their respective sportsbooks. New York’s tribal casinos have to announce a launch date as well.

What is the age requirement for sports betting?

New York law requires adults to be at least 21 years old to place sports wagers at any sportsbook located inside state lines.

Who regulates sports betting in New York?

The New York State Gaming Commission is the gambling authority for the Empire State, regulating all aspects of gaming activity, which includes sports betting. Their mission is to ensure all gaming is lawful and activity is conducted with the highest integrity and quality.    

What type of bets will be available?

NY sports bettors will be able to place straight bets (point spread, money line, over/under), parlays, in-game wagers plus others to be determined. All professional sports and collegiate games not involving a New York-based college are available to receive action.

Available sports at launch will include:

  • Football (NFL and NCAA)
  • Basketball (NBA, WNBA, NCAA)
  • Baseball (MLB and NCAA)
  • Hockey (NHL and NCAA)
  • Soccer (MLS, Premier League, World Cup, and NCAA)
  • Combat Sports (UFC and Boxing)
  • Golf (PGA, LPGA)
  • Auto-Sport (F-1, NASCAR)
  • Tennis
  • Olympics

What about the rest of the states?

New York is the 10th state to launch a sportsbook and the second of 2019, coming two weeks after Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort opened the first sportsbook in Arkansas.

Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico opened sportsbooks and joined the PASPA-exempt Nevada in 2018.

In 2019, six states — New Hampshire, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, and Tennessee — have legalized a form of sports betting. 

Latest to legalize:

Maine failed to legalize sports betting this year after the governor chose not to sign the bill. Colorado voters will have a chance to decide during their Fall 2019 elections after the governor signed the legislation in May.

California, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Ohio all have pending sports betting bills in their respective state legislature.

After spending several months in committee, House members in North Carolina passed a bill to allow sports betting at two tribal casinos on Monday, which now only needs a signature from the governor.

Oregon — who was partially exempt from PASPA — expects to launch their first sportsbook later this year while Washington DC, who recently announced a partnership with Intralot, could have their operations in place by late-2019 or early-2020.

By the end of 2019, as many as half of the states across the country could potentially legalize or launch sports betting.

And to see if your state is thinking to get in on the action, check out our US sports betting bill tracker for the latest legislative updates.

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