Is Sports Betting Legal in New York?

New Yorkers are extremely passionate about their sports teams. One of the most famous with millions of followers young and old is the New York Yankees.

The appetite to wager on the Bronx Bombers and other fan favorites like the NFL’s Giants and Jets is definitely there. But the state doesn’t have the legislation in place yet to make it happen.

So, for now, sports fans will continue to find other options to bet on the Knicks or Nets — like a visit to Las Vegas to stay at the iconic resort New York New York.

Betting Laws in New York

Almost 20 million people live in the state of New York. New York City, with its 8.5 million residents, is the largest, while Albany is the state capital.

In New York, state laws have historically limited gambling to casinos on Indian reservations and allow betting on horse and harness racing. But times are changing in the Empire State. In 2013, voters approved an amendment to the New York constitution that allows more Las Vegas-style casinos in the state.

Generally speaking, all legalized gambling within New York is now limited to the following areas:

  • Tribal casinos and bingo halls.
  • Commercial casinos.
  • Horse and harness racing.
  • Official state lottery.
  • Charitable gambling.
  • Social, private gambling.

Casinos have only been operational in New York state since 1993. Before that, there were only bingo halls. Today, you can find 25 casinos in New York state, though not all are created equal. 

There are a handful of full-service tribal casinos open 24 hours that offer table games as well as electronic slot machines. There are also nine racetrack casinos in New York state.

In 2013, voters passed a referendum allowing for up to seven non-Indian casinos to be built, including the newest which opened in February 2018. The $1-billion Resorts World Catskills is nestled among the beauty of the Catskills Mountains and is the closest casino-resort to Manhattan.

Horse racing has a long and storied history in the state of New York. One of the most famous races in the world is the third and final jewel of the Triple Crown — the Belmont Stakes in Elmont, N.Y. 

The Test of the Champion is held every year on the first or second Saturday in June. It is the only track in the world where a Triple Crown winner — like Justify in 2018 — can be crowned.

The largest of the racetracks in the state are Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga. Millions of dollars are bet at these New York facilities and off-track betting (OTB) locations every day of the year.

New York, which runs the largest lottery in the nation, reached nearly $9.9 billion in revenue in 2017.

New York Sports Betting Laws

At stake is a significant amount of money. In Nevada, where sports betting is legal, it is now an industry of nearly $5 billion a year. Industry and law enforcement officials estimate that more than $150 billion is placed annually with illegal bookmakers and with offshore accounts.

New York already has a 2013 law on the books that allows sports betting at its four upstate casinos. Because of that law, the New York State Gaming Commission indicated earlier in 2018 that it is in the process of developing regulations.

But the law is limited, such as only allowing bets in person at the four casinos in the Catskills, Albany area, Finger Lakes and Southern Tier.

Meanwhile, Native American casinos in western and central New York will also be allowed to start sports betting, they contend. But it’s unclear if and when they would move forward.

New York’s Major Sports Teams

National Football League

New York is the only city in the nation to have two teams in every major sport. In the NFL, fans can choose sides with the New York Giants or New York Jets. Interestingly, fans have to cross state lines into New Jersey as both teams play their home games at MetLife Stadium at the Meadowlands.

The Giants, who joined the league in 1925, have won the Super Bowl four times — the most recent in 2011. The Jets, who were established in 1959, won the championship in 1968.

Major League Baseball

The history of the New York Yankees spans more than a century, starting in 1901. Some of their superstars need no introduction — Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Maris and Jeter. The Bronx Bombers have won a record 27 World Series titles, which their most recent in 2009.

One of baseball’s first expansion teams, the New York Mets were founded in 1962 to replace New York’s departed NL teams, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants. The Mets, who play their home games at Citi Field in Queens, have won the World Series twice.

National Basketball Association

The New York Knicks, who were founded in 1947, play their home games at Madison Square Garden. 
The Knicks were successful during their early years and were constant playoff contenders. However, their last of two wins in the NBA Finals was in 1973 and their last conference title was in 1999.

The Brooklyn Nets were established in 1967 as a charter franchise of the NBA’s rival league, the American Basketball Association (ABA). The Nets, who play at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, have captured a conference title twice, but have never won an NBA Final.

National Hockey League

The New York Rangers, one of the Original Six teams, share their home stadium with the Knicks. Founded in 1926, the Rangers have won the Stanley Cup four times, but not in the last 20 years.

The New York Islanders, who dominated the league in the 1980s with four Stanley Cup victories, joined the NHL in 1972.