New York could become one of the first states to offer legalized sports betting, thanks to language included in a constitutional amendment related to casino gambling passed in 2013.

New York sports betting
New York could allow sports betting at its brick-and-mortar casinos without further legislation, thanks to language in a 2013 state constitutional amendment. (Image: Ethan Miller/Getty)

That was when New York changed its constitution to allow for commercial casinos to be operated within the state. As part of that effort, language was included that would allow those same casinos to offer sports betting should the federal government lift its ban on such wagers.

Gambling Commission Contingencies

That occurred last Monday, when the Supreme Court ruled the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) to be unconstitutional. Now, regulators in New York are working on establishing a set of rules for sports betting that could go into effect even if the state legislature doesn’t pass a bill on the subject.

“[Gaming] Commission staff have long been working on regulations that would effectuate sports gambling under the existing statutory language,” said Ron Ochrym, the acting executive director of the New York Gaming Commission, during a meeting of the Gaming Commission’s board. “Staff anticipates being able to provide a draft for your review in the near term.”

According to Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-Mount Vernon), who wrote the sports betting language that ended up in the constitutional amendment, the legal situation could allow for sports betting to begin in the state by the start of the summer.

“Right now, the state of New York will or can do sports betting in person in the brick-and-mortar casinos,” Pretlow said in an interview with Andrew Whitman of FiOS1 News. “I’m hopeful that it’s in place by the end of June, because I don’t want to miss the golf season.”

Land-Based Casinos Only, For Now

Pretlow said that both professional and collegiate sporting events would be available for betting. However, he made clear that, at least for now, only brick-and-mortar casinos would have the right to offer such bets.

“I’m only sorry that I didn’t think further ahead and allow this to take place in our racinos and our OTBs to give more of a venue,” he said in the interview.

Both Pretlow and his Senate counterpart, state Senator John Bonacic (R-Mount Hope), have introduced bills that would offer more comprehensive legislation to help regulate sports betting in New York. Bonacic’s bill would tax casinos at 8.5 percent on their gross revenues from the bets they take, and would also pay up to .25 percent of each bet to sports leagues as an integrity fee. Pretlow says that his bill is similar, though not exactly identical, to Bonacic’s legislation.

While projections of betting by the end of June might be appealing to sports fans in the Empire State, it’s likely that the actual timeline will end up being a bit longer. The Gaming Commission has not said when their rules will be announced, and even after they are proposed, they will be subject to a 45-day public comment period before they can go into effect.