Albany has been weighing decisions on expanding sports betting since the US Supreme Court struck down a federal law last year. New York does have a sports betting law from 2013 allowing limited wagering at four commercial casinos, with restrictions (keep in mind Native American tribal-owned/operated casinos can have different rules and regulations).
The American Gaming Association stated that 47 million Americans will wager $8.5 billion on this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament, with one in five adults placing bets someway, somehow. Yet, New York’s betting laws restrict wagering on state college teams. Batavia Downs, an affiliated casino, and other legal gambling houses want in on March Madness.
Henry Wojtaszek, President and CEO of Batavia Downs says, “It would certainly, again, create foot traffic through the place, it would allow our patrons who overwhelmingly tell us through the petitioning process and the focus groups and interactions that we have here, that they want to bet on sporting events.”
Ryan Haseneuer, Director of Marketing for Batavia Downs agrees. “…But to have people to place a small wager, to make it a little more fun, to make a little bit of money, it certainly would attract more people to come into the facility.”
Wojtaszek says New York was actually ahead of everyone else with their 2013 sports betting laws, but restrictions are still tight. He would like to see laws more akin to Las Vegas. He adds, “Sports betting itself would be betting on specific games, betting on ‘over/unders’, betting on certain outcomes of different plays.”
Greater flexibility with sports betting during March Madness, which is bigger than the Super Bowl according to Wojtaszek, would mean obviously more money for the casino, but also more funds for the community. He adds, “We are the only municipally owned and operated gaming facility in New York State, and we’re proud to return the money that we do to the member communities.”
Wojtaszak says greater sports betting at facilities across the state should be coming about in June for commercial casinos, just not likely for affiliates like Batavia Downs, and not in time for March Madness. Perhaps next year.
According to the AGA, expanded sports betting is currently being considered in 23 states across the country.