New York State approves sports gambling for upstate casinos

by Administrator

ALBANY - The last major hurdle to legalizing sports wagering in New York was cleared Monday with state regulators signing off on new rules for upstate casinos.

Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady only needs to complete work on its new lounge area, which is scheduled to be done in early July, and finish a pro-forma licensing process with the state to begin accepting sports bets.

The new rules adopted by the state Gaming Commission do not allow online sports wagering, as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's administration contends that would require an amendment to the state Constitution.

The expansion of wagering will apply to the four commercial casinos and seven full-service Indian-owned casinos, including Turning Stone in central New York. If additional commercial casino licenses are awarded, the rules would apply to them, too.

Casinos will need to get approval for the types of bets they want to offer, including wagers on plays during a game and the outcomes of multiple sporting events. While wagering on professional sports is allowed, the rules are more restrictive for college sporting events, with a prohibition on games in New York or involving New York-based collegiate teams.

Gaming Commission Executive Director Rob Williams said at Monday's meeting that additional "novel and unique" regulations can be considered in the future.

Rivers General Manager Justin Moore said they're "hopeful" to have their sports wagering lounge open for the start of the football season in September. He doesn't expect any problems with the licensing, noting they've been working "hand-in-hand" with regulators.

"We're very close to having sports wagering available inside the building," Moore said.

The 5,000-square-foot lounge at Rivers will be adjacent to the Van Slyck lounge, located off the main gaming floor, and will include club chairs and table seating to accommodate about 80 people, with five private booths that have television monitors. The viewing area will feature a 53-foot-long video wall.

The casino plans on staffing six betting windows and providing 16 self-serve kiosks that can accept bets.

Limiting sports gambling to the casinos is expected to generate a fraction of the interest that would come from a mobile option, which accounts for more than 80 percent of the activity in New Jersey.

An industry expert told the Senate's Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee last month that about 95 percent of sports gambling activity would be generated online if it was available. If it's limited to the casinos, about $48 million in gambling is expected when the market is fully up and running.

A handful of state lawmakers are desperately pushing legislation that would allow casinos to accept bets online, but the measure has stalled in the Capitol. That proposal has undergone multiple changes in recent weeks to gain support from the governor's office, but its chances are bleak heading into the final two weeks of the legislative session.

"There's still, as far as I can see, not much movement on the second floor for doing this," said Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, a Westchester County Democrat pushing the legislation.