New York Sports Betting Laws – Past & Present
Given the large population of the Empire State and the millions of sports fans, understanding New York sports betting laws is important. There are residents that have bet on sports and those who are interested in placing wagers that are unsure about the legality of it all. As with everything else in the United States, there are certain rules and laws that govern the sports betting industry. Before fully exploring these laws, it may seem that there are no legal sports betting options outside of DE and NV. However, online sports betting is a billion dollar industry and it is not as hard to navigate as many may think.
The sports betting laws in New York can be divided into two categories – state and federal. Once you are familiar with these laws, you will understand why millions of sports fans are able to safely bet on the New York Jets and other franchises. It all comes down to where and how you place your wagers, as you will come to realize as you read over the laws. We will provide you will all the information you need on New York sports betting laws.
It may come as a surprise, but New York sports betting laws are in short supply. In fact, the word “sport” is only mentioned once within the gambling section of the New York Penal Code, and not at all within the New York Constitution. That section is as follows:
S 225.35.2 Gambling Offenses; Presumptions.
“In any prosecution under this article in which it is necessary to prove the occurrence of a sporting event, a published report of its occurrence in any daily newspaper, magazine or other… printed publication… shall constitute presumptive proof of the occurrence of such event.”
There is nothing written in the code that states sports betting is illegal, though this section of the law means that if a person were found guilty of a gambling crime prosecutors could use a print-out to support that a sporting event occurred. So, why this statute if there is nothing in the state law that bans sports betting? Well, there are two reasons. The first is that using a local bookie to do any type of betting is illegal, along with bookmaking. We strongly advise against participating in either of these activities.
The second and most important cause is that New York, like most states, relies on federal sports betting laws to govern the activity. Instead of taking the time to enact their own laws regarding betting on sports, NY falls under the federal umbrella that has established the standard for betting on sports in America.
The lack of New York sports betting laws at the state level is why residents can safely bet on the New York Giants and other teams online. Aside from there being no sports betting laws, there are no provisions regarding online sports betting either. The only laws that exist are restrictive to those attempting to operate their own betting establishments, not casual bettors looking to place bets online.
As long as you use an offshore sports betting site that accepts New York players, you can bet on sports without violating any laws. Legal New York sports betting sites are essentially online sportsbooks that are based overseas but are licensed to accept players from NY and the rest of the United States.
Federal sports betting laws impact betting in New York and the entire US sports betting industry. These laws are so overarching that the vast majority of states have not enacted any of their own sports betting laws. There are three federal laws that govern how New Yorkers can bet on sports, and we will cover the Wire Act, PASPA, and the UIGEA in detail below.
The Wire Act of 1961 is the first law to become familiar with. Enacted by the 87th United States Congress, the Act was written during a time period where the U.S. was looking to combat the organized crime that was characteristic of the era. The Wire Act is an anti-racketeering law that concerns itself with preventing sports betting information and wagers from being transmitted across state lines.
18 U.S. Code § 1084(a)
“Whoever being engaged in the business of betting or wagering knowingly uses a wire communication facility for the transmission in interstate or foreign commerce of bets or wagers or information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers on any sporting event… shall be fined under this title”
It is important to note that the law specifically states that those in the business of wagering are penalized, not those placing bets. The Wire Act is one reason why you will not find online sportsbooks that are licensed by the US, as the law includes the internet in its definition of “wire communication facility”.
The federal law that has had the greatest impact on sports bettors. The law banned land-based sports betting in the majority of the United States. States that had existing sports betting laws were grandfathered into PASPA, which is why Nevada, Delaware, Montana, and Oregon are the only states permitted to offer land-based sports betting options.
Delaware offers limited NFL parlays, while Nevada is the only state with single-game wagering in the U.S. New York was not a state with preexisting sports betting operations, which is why sports fans do not have brick and mortar sportsbooks in the Empire State.
The most recent federal law on the books that impacts your options for betting on sports. Though sports betting is not mentioned specifically, the UIGEA prevents U.S. financial institutions from processing online gaming transactions from unregulated sites. There are five designated payment systems outlined by the Federal Reserve Board and U.S. Treasury that must be monitored and installed with provisions to block these “restricted transactions”.
Like all New York sports betting laws, the UIGEA has absolutely nothing to do with sports bettors themselves and is merely a banking law. The only impact it may have on individuals is that credit card payments may get declined from time to time. Legitimate New York sports betting sites work with various payment processors so that your deposits are safely and expediently applied to your sports betting account.
Based on the current legal climate, the future of New York sports betting is favorable. New Jersey has made several attempts to bring legalized sports betting to their state, and their case is now awaiting a ruling to be made by the U.S. Supreme Court. The verdict of the case could potentially impact other states, including New York. NY legislators are advocates of regulated sports betting, which is why they have already introduced a sports betting bill, with more New York sports betting laws expected in the future.
NY S01282 would legalize betting on professional and collegiate sports at licensed racetracks, casinos, and OTB facilities. Revenues would be used to support education in the state of New York. If passed, the amendment to the New York Constitution would only go into effect should the federal ban on sports betting be lifted.
Congressional efforts could also have an impact on the future of New York sports betting. There have been a number of representatives furthering the conversation on the topic of sports betting expansion, with some policymakers pushing for legislative action. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) introduced a discussion bill titled the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act (GAME Act). The GAME Act would repeal PASPA and allow each state to determine which forms of gambling to regulate within its jurisdiction. The goal of the bill is to put the power back in the hands of the state, rather than being controlled by the federal government.
There have been other congressmen taking a stand for widespread sports betting regulation, and these efforts would be to the benefit of the state of New York. Within a few years, fans of the New York Yankees or the Brooklyn Nets may be able to walk into a local sportsbook and place wagers.