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Online Sports Betting Bill Introduced In New York

Legislation Seeks To Make State Ready For Court Ruling

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Sports betting has joined online poker on the discussion table in the state of New York.

Republican State Sen. John Bonacic last week introduced a measure that would allow New York’s four non-tribal casinos to offer sports betting, both online and in person. The proposed law change would OK gambling such as single-game bets, teaser bets, parlays, over-under bets, moneyline, pools, exchange wagering, in-game wagering, in-play bets and proposition bets, according to the bill’s text.

“New York State has historically been behind the curve in dealing with developments in the gaming world, and it has been to our detriment,” Bonacic said in a statement regarding the impetus behind the proposal. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently mulling over a 1992 federal law that banned sports betting outside of Nevada. Critics say it’s unconstitutional. Around 20 states have made moves in anticipation of the change to federal law, which is expected by mid-year.

In New York, it would appear that regulating sports betting has a higher degree of urgency than regulating online poker. The state has flirted with online casino gaming for several years, but it has never pulled the trigger thanks to hang-ups in the Assembly. An online poker proposal most recently cleared a Senate committee in January, but its future remains unclear.

“If allowed, sports betting will be a revenue enhancer for education in New York," said Bonacic, who is also spearheading the online poker efforts. "We have the chance to ensure our sports betting statute is fully developed and addresses the needs of the state and all stakeholders so we can hit the ground running if and when we can authorize and regulate sports betting.”

Neighboring New Jersey will almost surely hit the ground running much faster, thanks to Garden State regulators already beginning the process of accepting sports book applications.

Under Bonacic’s plan, sports betting operators would pay an 8.5 percent state tax.

The Bonacic proposal would prohibit betting on high school sporting events. The proposed law change would also require casinos to report “abnormal betting activity or patterns that may indicate a concern with the integrity of a sporting event or events.”

Americans bet an estimated $150 billion each year on sports, though nearly all of it comes through illicit channels, according to the American Gaming Association.

Another motivator for New York might be the fact that the four commercial casinos, all of which have opened within the last year and a half, are greatly underperforming with their current gambling offerings. New York also has a dozen tribal casinos, plus a handful of racinos.