Mayor Gary McCarthy backed the Sox with his ceremonial first wager on Tuesday, officially opening the new sportsbook at Rivers Casino Schenectady for business. McCarthy was followed by Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-89), a powerful local lawmaker who long championed New York’s effort to legalize and regulate the sports betting industry.
Pretlow put his own $20 on the Seattle Mariners, but while the hometown Yankees and Mets both secured victory later that evening, the politicians watched their own tickets turn up losers. They later explained that the New York teams didn’t have MLB odds posted when the first bets were placed, but McCarthy and Pretlow are among the many local leaders who are enthusiastic about sports betting becoming a winner for New York.
State senator Joseph Addabbo (D-15) serves as Chair of the Racing and Gaming and Wagering Committee, where he sponsored an online sports betting bill which was overwhelmingly passed by the New York Senate. And while Addabbo’s bill was ultimately defeated in the House, he remains bullish about the prospects for New York legal sports betting revenue benefiting the state.
Speaking with CBS-6 Albany, Addabbo pointed to the 8.5 percent tax on gross gaming revenue sportsbook operators like Rivers Casino Schenectady will pay annually as a prime reason to embrace regulation:
“It’s a real positive step for our state in terms of educational funding which gaming revenue goes toward.”
Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara (D-111) cited the improved consumer protection offered by a regulated gambling market in his own interview with the local news outlet:
“This brings it out of the shadows, puts it in a place like this where it belongs where consumer protections are in place. We can do it safely and responsibly.”
In a press release issued by Rivers Casino Schenectady, McCarthy declared the sportsbook launch to be a milestone moment for the region:
“We couldn’t be happier for our great community partner Rivers Casino & Resort. It is indeed an historic day not just for the state of New York, but for the City of Schenectady. The opening of Rivers Sportsbook will surely attract even more guests to the property and to our great city.”
And in the same press release, Rivers Casino & Resort general manager Justin Moore said the Schenectady venue was the perfect place to debut New York’s newest gambling option:
“We’re so proud to be the first gaming operator in New York to take legal sports bets. Many people worked very hard to make legal sports wagering a reality in New York State, and we thank all of them for their tireless efforts and dedication. Sports fans and bettors from across the Capital Region and beyond will be thrilled with our new state-of-the-art Rivers Sportsbook lounge.”
In 2013, voters signed off on a ballot referendum to amend the state Constitution and build four commercial casinos. The New York Legislature did its part by passing a bill allowing those casinos, along with seven tribal casinos across the state, to offer New York legal sports betting providing a federal ban on the industry outside of Nevada was eventually overturned.
The U.S. Supreme Court obliged in May of last year, repealing the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 by deeming the blanket ban to be unconstitutional.
Rivers Sportsbook was joined one day later by the FanDuel Sportsbook at Tioga Downs, which began a three-day soft launch testing period on Wednesday. From there, the Oneida Indian Nation plans to open onsite sportsbooks at its Turning Stone Resort Casino and Point Place Casino on August 1.
Unfortunately for sports bettors who don’t live in the upstate region, New York’s new law doesn’t allow for online / mobile wagering.
Pretlow told the New York Post that he plans to remedy that absence as soon as possible:
“We’re going to get mobile sports betting before the middle of next year, it just has to be, because right now New Jersey is cleaning our clock when it comes to sports betting. I think New York should always be at the forefront of everything and right now we’re a little bit behind them.”
With 80 percent of New Jersey’s thriving sports betting market generated by online / mobile wagering, Pretlow knows New York must level the playing field in expeditious fashion.
A last-minute legislative effort saw an online / mobile sports bill sail through the state Senate, only to die on the proverbial vine within the General Assembly despite Pretlow’s perceived power in that chamber.