With the massive losses suffered by the brick-and-mortar casino industry due to the coronavirus outbreak of 2020, many states – once antagonistic to the very idea of retail sports betting – are now looking towards legalizing full-blown online sports betting.
More than 20 states have already done just that, with another 15 or so considering legislation or expressing their intent to address the market in their upcoming 2021 congressional sessions.
Yes, the trend actually started earlier, with several states immediately legalizing the pastime upon the Supreme Court PASPA overturn in May 2018.
A few states even preemptively legalized domestic sports betting before the SCOTUS decision, anticipating the (very clear) writing on the wall.
However, some states have needed the extra prodding of the pandemic, particularly now that they see first-hand the damage that wide-ranging shutdowns, quarantines, and closures have dealt to the gaming industry and the downmarket service sector thereof.
One such state is New York.
When New York legalized sports wagering for its land-based casinos back in 2013, it preempted the PASPA overturn by years. Though the first domestic sportsbooks in the state didn’t open until July of 2019, NY gets credit for being ready.
As it turns out, the state wasn’t ready enough.
See, they didn’t legalize online sports betting.
But they should have. Even in 2013, the Internet was mature, and most retail industries were already firmly established – and killing it – online.
In fact, legal online sportsbooks at 18 and up offshore gambling sites have been active since at least 1996. Taking that cue, the state should have legalized the online platform when it legalized the pastime itself.
At the very least, the state should have amended its 2013 law at some point between then and now to reflect the crucial importance of moving sports betting – if no other gaming market – over to the Internet.
These days, naturally, NY sees the light. And rumor has it that the state assembly is likely to amend the existing law the allow for online sports betting.
Of course, here at Casinos18, we’re more interested in 18+ online casino gambling than mere online sports betting.
To that end, we are optimistic about the developments in NY specifically because it gives momentum to wider potential online gambling expansion (even though such gaming will likely be limited to players aged 21 and up).
And New York desperately needs that.
Take the example offered by neighboring New Jersey:
New Jersey has online iGaming, which is what kept its gambling industry afloat to the tune of a mere 40% year-over-year loss for 2020, while Nevada’s gaming revenue cratered by over 95% compared against 2019.
Remember those numbers, as we’ll hit on their import in a moment.
In New York, the state’s much-ballyhooed quartet of upstate commercial casinos was already largely stagnant before the COVID crisis, failing to meet projections that were hyped upon the passage of the Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act of 2013 (which is the aforementioned law that legalized NY sports betting).
After opening during 2017 and 2018, these massive gambling venues are practically white elephants today, unable to attract remotely the kind of business that sold New Yorkers on the original idea.
They have certainly not lived up to their billing, and they’ve unambiguously had no positive impact on NY’s “economic development.”
(Too bad that turn of phrase is immortalized in the law’s title itself, as such an outcome is embarrassingly shameful – or would be, if politicians actually had any shame to begin with.)
But online gambling can help right these sinking ships, and it can help a lot more than mere sports betting can or will.
Remember, Vegas has online sportsbooks. Those weren’t of much use when all the sports leagues called a lid on their seasons. The difference between New Jersey’s fortune and Nevada’s misfortune during 2020 was online casino gambling, not online sports betting.
Nevada doesn’t have it, and it shows.
Because of this, once online sports betting goes live in the Empire State, we wouldn’t be surprised if New York legislators start considering legal iGaming to go along with it.
All that said, you shouldn’t expect any of this to happen anytime soon. If NY legalizes online sports betting, you won’t see active books until sometime in Q3 2021.
Meanwhile, any talk of legal iGaming will probably have to go before the voters via referendum, which puts that on a timeline for action in 2022 at the earliest.
From there, regulations and licensing will have to be negotiated, pushing any New York online casino launch even further down the calendar.
If you live in NY and are holding your breath, stop it.
And then get in your car and head across the bridge into Jersey to place your bets.
Or, if you’re really smart, just stay home, join a legitimate offshore gambling site, and play all the online casino games and bet on all the sports you want.
You don’t have to wait to gamble online.
Even if New York – in its infinite wisdom – wants you to.