Lawmakers still looking at tweaks to NY gaming rules

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Over the last several days, New Yorkers who wanted to bet on the results of the NFL Draft on their phones learned it’s not allowed in this state.

“Unfortunately the draft doesn’t really fit into the definition of sports or sports betting,” State Senate Gaming Chair Joe Addabbo said. “It’s not really a sport.”

Addabbo said lawmakers are considering changing the rules to allow for betting on things like the draft, Super Bowl props and even the results of award shows like the Oscars and Grammys.

“I always said the first variation of mobile sports betting in New York won’t be the last,” Addabbo said. “We’ll evolve to make it a better product for New Yorkers.”

He said this weekend’s Kentucky Derby draws attention to another one of the state’s gaming system limitations. Betting for horse races in New York is currently done on different platforms than other sports.

“It’s ridiculous,” Addabbo said. “I think this state of technology and, again, you want to provide a great product in the state, you should merge the two and we should have those who have the horse racing content merge with mobile sports betting.” 

He believes some tweaks to the laws can be addressed this year. However, the next big debate, iGaming — mobile and online betting for poker, roulette and other table games currently only offered in casino — probably won’t happen until at least next year.

“That’s a bigger conversation for probably next year’s budget because of its fiscal impact to the state but even, again, the smaller items like incorporating other sports into mobile sports betting, I’d love to do it this session,” Addabbo said.

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He said the Hochul administration has been much more open to gaming reform in general and he does think iGaming can eventually get done.

“It’s not going to be easy, but it’s not impossible either,” he said. “There’s not a hurdle we can’t clear. Last year, we did mobile sports betting. This year, we did the downstate licenses. We have addressed these two big items for the benefit of New Yorkers.”