ew York regulators are scheduled to take a key step toward authorizing sports betting in the state, though only at the state's existing casinos and not on mobile devices.
The state Gaming Commission is set to meet today in Manhattan, where its agenda includes a preliminary vote on rules that would let the state's private and Native-owned casinos accept bets on sporting events — so long as they are placed in person.
The vote will launch a public-comment period of at least 45 days before the rules can be finalized.
The proposed regulations had not yet been posted on the Gaming Commission's website as of late Sunday night, though a draft version had been circulated among casino representatives.
But the state's 2013 casino-gambling law — which authorized sports gambling if the Supreme Court shot down a federal ban, which happened last year — limits what the commission can and can't approve.
That includes mobile betting, which is prohibited by a measure in the law requiring bets to be placed in person at the state's four current private casinos: del Lago in Seneca County; Tioga Downs in the Southern Tier; Rivers Casino in Schenectady; and Resorts World Catskills in Sullivan County.
Sports betting would also be authorized in Native American-run casinos, including those in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, which are generally allowed to offer any gaming offered by the private casinos.
Allowing mobile betting would require the state Legislature to pass a new bill — or perhaps a constitutional amendment, which is a multi-year process.
Casino representatives and online companies like DraftKings and FanDuel believe lawmakers can simply pass a new law allowing New Yorkers to bet from their phones, similar to current apps that allow them to wager on horse racing.
But Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office has signaled it believes the state Constitution's language on gambling prohibits anything but in-person wagers at the casinos and would have to be changed.
In order to change the Constitution, an amendment would have to be approved during separately elected sessions of the Legislature. After that, the public would have to approve it in a referendum — a process that couldn't be completed until late 2021 at the earliest.
Last week, FanDuel rallied its users to write to lawmakers and urge them to pass a mobile-betting law.
"Without your help, New York's sports betting will be limited to the casinos very far away from where many New Yorkers live," the company wrote.