Sports betting already has a long and storied history in the United States that's still adding new segments to this very day and will continue to do so as more and more states bring legalized sports gambling to their jurisdictions. One of the first states to do so was New York, which has one of the more interesting pasts with the new growing market.
How sports betting was legalized in New York
The state of New York actually voted to legalize sports betting at the state level before it was introduced at the federal level. Back on November 5, 2013, voters chose to pass New York Casino Gambling Amendment, Proposal 1, ensuring that sports betting would be allowed at four casinos in the state as soon as sports betting was legalized by the country.
While any resident of New York hoping to place a legal sports bet in 2013 was getting way ahead of themselves, their dream finally became a reality in 2018 when the United States Supreme Court decided to repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, effectively passing on the legality of sports betting down to each individual state to decide for itself. With New York Casino Gambling Amendment, Proposal 1 already inked by the state legislature five years prior, NY online betting was primed to hit the ground running.
Their proactive work allowed the state to start laying down infrastructure for the new sports betting market as soon as PASPA was struck down on May 14, 2018. With that head start, it wasn't long after sports betting was legalized federally that New York was able to accept their first retail bet. On July 16, 2019, the Rivers Sportsbook at Rivers Casino in Schenectady became the first operator to start accepting retail wagers in the state.
Success of retail sports betting and its effects on New York
Retail sports betting in New York quickly became an extremely profitable venture for both the state and its sportsbooks. As such, it made perfect sense why the state and its legislators would want to allow online and mobile betting as well, bringing legalized sports gambling to residents all over the state and not just those near or willing to travel to the operating retail locations.
Several state officials, including Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, attempted to introduce legislation to legalize mobile sports betting in New York. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic ground the country to a halt, effectively tabling the discussion for at least a year.
Mobile betting legalized in New York
With their goal set and the foundation already laid out, lawmakers in favor of mobile sports betting picked up right where they left off in 2021. Due to their efforts, a state budget bill including a measure to legalize online sports gambling made its way through the New York legal bodies on April 6, 2021, allowing mobile and online sports betting to launch in the near future.
The bill tasked regulators such as the New York State Gaming Commission with commissioning all rules and regulations surrounding mobile and online sports betting in New York before it officially launched in the state. By January 8, 2022, sportsbooks in New York were officially taking their first online and mobile wagers from New York residents.
The introduction of online and mobile sports betting had a massive and immediate effect on the market in the state. February 2021 saw sportsbooks raking in just over $1 million in revenue. While retail gaming took a massive dip in the same month of the following year, with operators actually taking over a $200,000 hit on in-person wagers, online and mobile betting led to a massive increase in profits overall, as operators drew over $82 million in gross revenue.
Photo: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.