An effort to legalise sports betting in New York has been noted in the Empire State. The bill appears to be on the way for next year, 2017. However, such a piece of legislation is likely to ruffle some feathers. It will most certainly run up against many hurdles in the state and face opposition from a variety of fronts.
The New York Sports Bill
All we know is that the New York sports betting bill has not been yet been introduced. The speculation is that it is most likely to be presented next year. According to a report by Gambling Compliance, from earlier this year, such a legislation was to be expected from the office of Assembly member, Gary Pretlow. Pretlow told Gambling Compliance on the side lines of a gaming law conference in Saratoga Springs that they could expect a bill of this nature out of the state of New York State in the near future.
He said, “Don’t be surprised if you see a state like New York put through legislation on this very shortly”. He also added that he is not afraid to challenge the current laws in the area but was had to prepare himself further before taking any actions. He said, “I’m looking at challenging the feds on this, but I have more homework to do.” It looks likes the Pretlow bill is most likely going to become a reality very soon. Much like the ongoing court case in New Jersey regarding their sports betting efforts, the bill in New York will also attempt to challenge the federal law.
Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) bans single- game wagering everywhere in the United States except the state of Nevada. It only allows limited wagering in some other states that were grandfathered into the law during its inception.
PASPA, which is also known as the Bradley Act was named after the main sponsor of the law, former senator, Bill Bradley of New Jersey. It had been established to stop the spread of sports betting in the USA. The bill passed the US Senate on the 2nd of June 1992 and the House of Representatives on the 6th of October of the same year. The law finally went into effect on the 1st of January 1993. The language in PASPA prevented new states from legalising sports betting. However, it exempted states that had already legalised sports betting laws on the books. The four states that were grandfathered into the law were Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana.
There was a clause in the PASPA, which allowed sports betting to be expanded to some states. This included any state that had had commercial gambling already authorised within the borders, for a minimum of ten years. At the time New Jersey was the only state that would have qualified, as they had authorised gambling 13 years before. However, the clause only allowed them a window of one year, after the passage of PASPA, to make the alterations. New Jersey authorities failed to pass a sports betting law before the end of 1993 and therefore, not allowed to offer sports wagering at their casinos.
New York Can Expect a PASPA Lawsuit
Firstly, looking at the history of New Jersey, we can say that it would be inevitable to avoid a lawsuit is such a law was to be enacted in the state of New York. The law would be challenged in court as soon as it is enacted.
This is an educated guess based on what has been observed in the state of New Jersey so far. New Jersey has been attempting to get a partial repeal of the PASPA gambling laws to enact sports betting within their borders for a long time. The New York bill is expected to follow the same model.
The two laws that have been passed by the Garden State till now have both been challenged by the major professional sports leagues. This includes the National Football League (NFL), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Hockey League (NHL), the Major League Baseball (MLB), as well as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA); as well as the Department of Justice. Unfortunately for the state, New Jersey has lost at every turn. They have appealed their case to the U. S. Supreme Court but are still waiting to hear from them.
The New York law is likely to face similar challenges. However, the idea behind going ahead with it despite the legal issues lies with the circuit court that the case will end up in. The New York Sports Betting case would end up in the Second Circuit court of the federal system, while the New Jersey cases have always been dealt with at the in the Third Circuit courts.
It is expected that the rulings against New Jersey, to date in the Third Circuit, would be used against New York in a PASPA challenge. However, it is possible that the Second Circuit court might come to a different conclusion from the Third Circuit courts regarding the constitutionality of PASPA. Officials in New York hope that this will create enough of a split in the circuits to warrant a SCOTUS review. This could be their only way of getting sports betting laws established in the state of New York.
It is worthwhile to mention that the state of New York is currently also encountering a legal challenge against their daily fantasy sports (DFS) law. The DFS law was only passed earlier this year. Given the current matters on their agenda, it is hard to tell that whether they will truly wish to go into a long court battle over a new sports betting laws.
Main Differences between the Sports Betting Laws in NJ and NY
The starting points for the states of New York and New Jersey, as far as the sports betting bills are concerned, are very different. New Jersey has been trying to legalise sports betting within their borders for many years. They are relentless in their efforts as the additional revenues from sports betting is very much needed by the state government to prop up the state’s racetracks and Atlantic City casinos. The harbour- front gambling town has seen a lot of economic casualties since the Great Recession. Five Atlantic City casinos have closed in recent years. The latest being as recent as 2016.
Part of the reason the gambling industry in NJ is in trouble is because of the increased competition from regional casinos. The states of New York and Pennsylvania have expanded their offerings to try and keep the gambling dollar from slipping across the state borders to New Jersey. There are 13 casinos operating in the state of Pennsylvania and the first of four new commercial casinos have just launched in New York State.
The gambling industry in New York includes racetracks and tribal casinos. All of the properties stand to benefit if sports betting is to be legalised. Unlike New Jersey, the state of New York is not in dire need of the gambling expansions. The five casinos closures in Atlantic City have resulted in its takeover by the state of New Jersey. The famous gambling town is also looking at the possibility of bankruptcy in the near future. This desperate need to improve the economic conditions in New Jersey is what sets it apart from New York. For one, it would simply be nice, while for the other, it could be something that is viewed as necessary for the overall health of their casino industry. However, it is unknown whether the Pretlow bill had been designed with the future in mind. It has not been announced whether the state of New York hoped to issue even more casino licenses. However, at the given time it would be unwise to give out additional casino permits without establishing that the current or future health of the existing licensees would be viable without the legalisation of sports betting.
There is also a political will in New Jersey to go to court for sports betting. It is not yet clear whether such a will also exists in New York.
The Sports Leagues and New York
If the state of New York does decide to pass sports betting laws, it can almost be guaranteed that the sporting leagues would get involved. However, it is hard to say how likely they are to get involved while it is still only a bill.
All the pro sports leagues are all headquartered in New York. Given that they have explicitly expressed opposition towards the partial sports betting repeals in the New Jersey cases, the leagues might just try to head off the legislative effort in New York at the pass via lobbying.
The leagues have always maintained that they might step aside to allow for a new federal framework for sports betting, in which states could choose to opt in to allow sports betting or opt out. Even the NBA, which has been the most aggressive in their opposition towards regulated legal sports betting, has been less so towards a state by state approach.
None of the pro leagues have stepped aside to allow sports betting in practice as of yet and it is safe to say that if the leagues get involved, the bill would face significant headwinds.
All of that adds up to present that the idea of a sports betting bill being introduced would be significant, but not done deal for New York. We will have to wait till the new year to see how this unfolds.