Is Sports Betting Legal in New York? Guide to Gambling Responsibly

May 9, 2024

Sports gambling legalization is sweeping across the country as states rush to be a part of the new wave and reap the tax revenues from this new opportunity. One state that has had legal sports betting for over two years is New York. It wasn’t a first-mover like neighboring New Jersey, but after seeing the success there (and residents crossing the border into NJ to bet), New York moved to offer the same betting options within its state lines. 

Despite unprecedented high tax rates, sportsbooks rushed to grab a piece of the sports gambling market in New York because of the large population and many professional sports teams to bet on. Let’s take a look at the history of legalized betting in the Empire State and its growing popularity.

History of sports betting in NY

The start of sports betting in New York began years before the federal ban on sports betting was overturned in 2018. Five years earlier, New York legalized sports betting at the state level with the “New York Casino Gambling Amendment”, which allowed in-person sports betting at four locations across the state, but notably none near New York City (Sports Betting Dime). However, this meant little until the federal government lifted the ban on sports betting and left it up to the states.

The Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in the Spring of 2018. This gave states the power to legalize sports betting, and New York pounced on the opportunity. By the Summer of 2019, the Rivers Sportsbook at Rivers Casino in Schenectady became the first retail sportsbook to take in-person wagers on sports (Sports Betting Dime). New York didn’t stop there, as Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow pushed for the Empire State to legalize online sports betting too.

The state was in deep talks to pass legislation that would legalize mobile sports gambling, but then the COVID-19 pandemic began in America. That took priority, and talks to legalize online sports betting were tabled. But on April 6, 2021, New York state legislators saw the impact of COVID on states revenues and passed a bill that would allow online sports betting in the Empire State. After a few months of figuring out the logistics, online sports betting went live in New York on January 8, 2022.

Future of Casinos in New York City

Sports betting is legal both in person and online in the Empire State, yet you won’t find a casino in New York City, and you shouldn’t hold your breath on it. State legislators have announced that they will not decide on the idea of a casino in New York City until the end of 2025, which would likely delay the opening of a Big Apple casino until sometime in 2026 at the earliest. The delay has sparked some outrage among New York citizens, including Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, “It’s absurd that it’s going to take 3 years to put shovels in the ground” (New York Post).

The delay doesn’t mean there haven't been plenty of proposed casinos. The state gaming commission has stated that there are four proposed casinos so far, and the winning bid would have to pay $500 million in an upfront licensing fee (New York Post). Keeping in mind that over 60 million tourists visited New York City in 2023, that large price might seem reasonable (Travel Trends Today). 

How popular is sports betting in New York?

The Empire State has steadily been one of the most popular sports betting states in the country. According to the AGA, New York had the highest sports betting state revenue in the country in 2023 at nearly $1.7 billion. That’s because New York had a sports betting handle of $19.2 billion last year (The Lines). The state continues to see excellent numbers in 2024 as over $5 billion was wagered from the start of January to the end of March (New York Gaming).

Only once in the last 13 months did New York have a month with a handle below $1 billion. That was July of 2023, which is considered the “dog days of summer” when there aren’t a lot of sports to bet on. However, by the time football season rolled around, the handle was above $2 billion each month from October to December (New York Gaming).

How to bet on sports responsibly in NY

Gambling responsibly helps you avoid the risk of developing a gambling addiction, so here are a few tips for New Yorkers to remember when sports betting.

Only bet what you can afford to lose

It’s important to perceive gambling as paid entertainment. View betting as going to a concert or sporting event and only gamble what you can afford to.

Set limits for yourself

Setting limits on how much and often you gamble is crucial. It can include limiting how much you gamble on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis as well as controlling how often you go to a casino or log into an online sportsbook.

Find your unit size and stick to it

A unit is generally 1-4% of your betting bankroll. A unit size varies per person, but it’s important to find yours and stick to it so that inevitable “cold streaks” don’t result in blowing through your entire betting budget.

Never chase your losses

One of the easiest and quickest ways to lose more money than you anticipated is to chase your losses. If you lose a bet, don’t place another one to try to win back or break even on the day. Remember, gambling is about the long term.

Avoid gambling under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Drugs and alcohol can impact your judgment and can lower your risk awareness, so it’s important to try and gamble without any emotional stress or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Gambling Addiction Treatment and Resources

New Yorkers have several options for help if they are suffering from a gambling addiction. To reach the state’s problem gambling helpline, you can call 1-877-8-HOPENY or text HOPENY. If you are looking for a different option, consider the at-home digital care options from Birches Health. Birches is a completely online provider that offers gambling addiction treatment from a team of specially trained professionals with years of experience. They offer tailored intake and ongoing care. All meetings are 100% confidential, and the best part is many patients have a $0 out-of-pocket cost.

Sources:

The Full Timeline Leading Up to Online New York Sports Betting

State won't decide on casino licenses for NYC area until 2025 -- pushing out likely opening by years

New York City Attracts 61.8 Mn Travelers in 2023, Expects 64.5 Mn Visitors in 2024 | Travel Trends Today

States With The Highest Sports Betting Revenue In The US

Sports Betting Per Capita: Ranking The Top-10 States in America

Total Mobile Sports Wagering Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) and Taxes - Fiscal Year 2023/2024

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