When the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”) was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in May of 2018, New York state was one of the first to attempt to legalize sports betting for its residents. Perhaps lacking a clear vision of the future, the applicable legislation only authorized retail sports betting. You would have to physically attend a casino or retail sportsbook to bet.

That soon became an issue for New York residents. They had been hoping to have the same scenario as their New Jersey neighbors. The Garden State wasted no time in making online sports betting legal as of 2018. The convenience of being able to place legal wagers on your phone or mobile device is what people really want. It was a popular move with the majority of residents and provided a boost to state tax coffers.

Meanwhile in New York, sports betting has been fairly inaccessible. Most of the retail sportsbooks are located in the northern part of the state. Not much use to sports bettors in the highly populated greater New York City region.

To make matters worse, New York has been dragging its heels on approving statewide legal online/mobile sports betting.


Betting Options for New Yorkers

That means for more than two years now New York sports bettors have been in a quandary. Traveling upstate to make sports bets is not realistic for many so they are left with two options. They can take a chance with offshore providers and all the risks involved therein. Or they can drive to nearby states that do permit mobile sports betting. For the most part, NYC sports bettors have sensibly chosen the latter option. After all, New Jersey online sportsbooks are available in some cases just minutes away.

This flow of potential tax dollars across state lines does not sit well with many in the NY state legislature. Additionally, budgets are tight in many states due to COVID. This only served to further increase the pressure to find new sources of tax revenue. It doesn’t make fiscal sense to allow all that sports betting tax revenue go to neighboring jurisdictions.

Finally in early summer of 2021 there was movement. The state government and former Governor Andrew Cuomo reached an agreement to approve online/mobile sports betting legislation. The trouble is no one seems to know exactly when and how this legislation will be put into action. Many have been seeking clarity on the issue but nobody seems completely able to provide it.


New York’s Online Gambling Status

When three-term Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned in August, the uncertainty over online sports betting increased. Under his direction, New York had decided to go with one sports betting operator that would have exclusive rights to provide access to mobile sports betting for the state’s residents. With his resignation, the big question became, “where does interim Governor Kathy Hochul stand on this issue?”

For the most part, the new Governor decided to support what Cuomo was putting in place. One tweak is that the state now plans to move forward by issuing not one but two online mobile sports betting licenses.

The two exclusive operators will need to go through a bid process. They will also need to pay $25 million each for a 10-year license and also pony up $5 million to cover fees associated with housing servers with the state’s four established retail casinos. The revenues generated will be divided between the operators and the state.


The current Timeline

With most of the administrative issues resolved, New York’s State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) put out the word in July of 2021 that they would start accepting “Request for Application (RFA)” from sports betting operators. That got the ball rolling for applications to start pouring in.

At the present time, all applications have been received and reviewed. Also, a few chosen sports betting applicants made oral presentations around the beginning of September. Chosen applicants were those that are in a position to meet a long list of requirements from the NYSGC as set forth by approved legislation. Leading the way for chosen applicants are top U.S. sports betting operators like DraftKings, FanDuel, Fox Bet, Bally’s, BetMGM, and perhaps Caesars Sportsbook.

It’s worth noting that the current target number of licensed sports betting operators is two. However, the NYSGC still has at its discretion the authority to issue more licenses should they believe that would be in the state’s best interest.

It’s fair to say there is still plenty of ambiguity when it comes to legal betting in New York.


When Will Online Betting Begin In NY?

Here’s the bottom line. A tentative date of December 6, 2021 has been set as a target date for the start of online/mobile sports betting in NY. There are naysayers that say it probably won’t happen until next year. Either way, the NYSGC would definitely like to see New Yorkers wagering online before the end of the current NFL regular season. The last thing they want is the state missing out on revenue from the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl.

That’s where things seem to stand right now. However, everything is subject to change up until the moment the state’s licensed sports betting operators actually start taking online bets.