While two of the state’s newest commercial casinos are less than a year old, and a third has yet to open, state and industry leaders are already looking toward gaming’s next frontier: sports betting.
“There’s untapped potential in sports betting,” said Steve Doty, director of media relations for the American Gaming Association, a trade group that represents the casino industry.
The association hosted a panel Tuesday at Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady. The discussion focused on the ways in which casinos positively impact local economies, but during the event, panelists expressed support for the legalization of sports betting as a way for the gaming industry to grow.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act effectively outlaws sports betting outside of Nevada and a few other states. New Jersey has appealed its case to overturn the law, with that case expected to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
New Jersey is arguing the federal government does not have the right to control state laws regarding sports betting. If New Jersey prevails and begins to offer sports betting platforms at its casinos and racetracks, those wagers would be subject to state taxes, a model that could be replicated if other states legalized sports betting.
More than $100 billion is spent through illegal channels on sports betting annually, Doty said. If the practice were legal, the state Legislature could craft a law to set guidelines for how sports betting would operate in New York, he said.
For example, lawmakers could determine whether a Las Vegas-style sports book would be able to operate out of Rivers Casino, or if wagering would be done online.
Citing a May Oxford Economics study on the economic impact of legalized sports betting, the practice would produce millions in revenue for New York state and could support thousands of jobs, Doty said.
Rivers Casino will host its first live boxing match this weekend, an event that can’t legally be wagered on.
New York Sen. John Bonacic, who chairs the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, said he would like to see the Supreme Court throw out the legislation banning sports betting.
“Prohibition hasn’t worked,” he said, adding that people who want to bet on sports find a way to do so regardless of the ban.