The Current State of Gambling in the Apple State
Perhaps after California, New York carries with it the most enticing economic potential from the legalization of sports betting. After the legalization of casino gambling in 1988 through the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, New York opened six casinos; these casinos were operated by three independent Native American tribes. For those looking to get their wagering fix in, on top of the plethora of table games at the public disposal, over 10,000 slot machines are available today for communal use. As the culture surrounding gambling changed with time, so did New York’s laws.
The City of Lights Fights for its Rights
2013 was as tumultuous a year for the gambling debate as any, as New York’s twin state, New Jersey, faced its own heated fight to legalize sports wagering. Like New Jersey, New York succeeded in expanding the provisions of the billion dollar business. Lawmakers okayed the possibility of adding up to seven non-tribal casinos; this resulted in the creation of three new state of the art casinos. More importantly for sports fanatics, the comprehensive legal reform also allowed for sports betting at the four upstate commercial casinos. What the revised law didn’t allow for however, was the presence of online casino betting and off-track betting corporations. The current proposed bill, S 7900 filed by Senator Bonacic, would give upstate casinos the authority to contract branded kiosks. Among other features, this would provide the necessary discretion to offer sports betting at other sites such as off-track betting parlors. Although the bill has a fair amount of momentum and support, there are still minor yet intricate differences among the voting bloc that cannot be ignored; namely, the matter of online betting apps. Bonacic’s bill requires that the servers of the betting apps be located inside the land-based casinos which would at least in theory, eliminate the argument that customers using an app to place bets are doing so outside the casino. However, Bennet Liebman, a legal expert who has served as the state deputy secretary for gaming and racing, claims that this counterargument may still run counter to the state constitution due to a loose interception of the 2013 constitutional amendment that restricted the number of casinos. In this case, a constitutional amendment would be needed which by all accounts and measures, is an arduous task. Regardless, this serves as one of the many wedge issues that the state constituencies are divided upon and until a compromise solution is reached, New York’s fight to legalize unmitigated sports betting will trek on.
The Economic Effect
Jobs, Taxes, and Revenue
Because of the sought after service it is, sports gambling brings bubbling economic potential to any state that legalizes it. Obviously, financial estimates vary depending on the source, but one estimate goes as far as to say that New York could be the beneficiary of anywhere from $170.4 million to $591.3 in yearly total fiscal impact. Additionally, anywhere from 3,200 to 12,000 jobs could be realized. Officials hope that a stable legal gambling experience will also contribute to filtering out much of the illicit gambling going on in the state which has by popular consensus, been documented to be occurring at the highest rate in the nation. While the aforementioned numbers are impressive, they frankly shouldn’t be too surprising considering that even gambling critics have acknowledged that the billion dollar business would have massive economic ramifications, especially in a state like New York. Despite the clouds of optimism, there are certainly still economic controversies at hand; for instance, New York casinos have cut into the earnings of varying competitors in the region such as the racinos. Moreover, states should carefully consider the implications of taxing the casinos at higher rates in hopes of maximizing their own revenue. Here, the logic follows as suit: the higher the tax, the less operators.
The domino effect sports gambling has on the states’ economy stretches much further than some revenue loss for your average racino. Horserace betting long a gambling stable due to the illicit nature of virtually every other form of sports wagering has recently seen a sharp decline in its activity in the state. As a matter of fact, between 2010 and 2014, the New York Racing Association lost some $109 million on racing operations. With sports gambling swiftly gaining steam in New York this year, horse race operators fear the trend may be bound to continue: and at an even higher rate.
A Glimpse at the Future
Minor Issues, Major Implications
While the sheer momentum sports gambling has gained in the past year may be too hard of a force to withstand, the future of the industry in the state is still murky. Notwithstanding the possibility of a limited sports betting bill getting passed by the end of the calendar year, it is more likely that a comprehensive bill would have to be passed in 2019. The feasibility of passing a limited bill this year rests on the issue of whether the provisions included could be legally justified through the 2013 legal ruling. It is more likely however that because a bill would likely want to address such things as tribal casinos and mobile apps (dealing with these things under the 2013 law may prove to be difficult), New York residents may have to wait one more year when lawmakers can work to amend the current constitution. While lawmakers may be tempted to hastily pass a bill and capitalize on the current frenzy surrounding the business, in the end, it would be shortsighted considering the staying power of the industry and the raging influence online mobile betting carries. Cliches can ring hollow more often than not but in this case, it holds true: patience is a virtue.
Age is Not Just a Number
Across the country, the legal gambling age varies between 18 and 21. In the case of the Big Apple, the minimum age requirement is 18. This requirement applies to both online and casino gambling. Teenagers certainly have a keen interest in sports, and this curtailed age requirement should only help get more people in the casinos. Nevertheless, all signs point to it being only a matter of time before the New York populace can enjoy seemly strolls down to their local casino.
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