New York College Betting Restrictions And Potential Industry Changes  

After two months of high sports betting activity, March Madness betting could hit major handle, revenue, and tax milestones for New York mobile sports betting. Further, those figures are expected to hit new highs despite New York college betting restrictions. 

“I think New York got on board at the right time,” Nick Antenucci, Senior Counsel at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron said. “You could not have scripted it better from a policy standpoint by giving a license out during the NFL playoff and seeing what a boon [it’s been].”

Lifting New York College Betting Restrictions

Despite high revenue, New York bettors have certain restrictions on what they can bet on during March Madness. New York’s Gaming Commission prohibits wagers on New York college teams, whether they’re playing in the state or out of the state. 

“Colgate’s a perfect example,” Antenucci said. “A New Yorker can’t bet on that game…A New York person betting on a New York sports platform does not have as many options as they do in other states because the restriction [on college betting] is not there.”       

Non-New York college teams that play in New York are fair game for bettors, but New York college teams won’t be available in New York sportsbooks. 

That shouldn’t be a critical issue for New Yorkers this year, though. Without Syracuse and St. John in the NCAA Tournament, the impact of New York’s college betting restriction is limited. That said, there’s a chance that these missed opportunities could lead to a bill eliminating those college betting restrictions. 

“I could see it out there for discussion and I could see the providers asking members to [introduce a bill],” Antenucci said. “But actual implementation and getting done in the next two years, that might just be too soon of a window.”   

Support for that bill isn’t guaranteed, either. Universities share concerns about problem gambling and match-fixing. The dark side of sports betting could lead New York universities to oppose a bill eliminating New York college betting restrictions. 

“I think once New York overcomes those in time, you’ll see a lot of those restrictions lifted with the caveat being if the schools themselves don’t really want to play in the states. I think New York will be beholden to the universities and colleges more so than they would be the bettors and the press.” 

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Expanding Operators

The lifting of restrictions on college betting hasn’t come up in New York’s assembly yet, but another major industry change is already on its way. Recently, New York’s State Senate voted on a bill to increase the number of sports betting operators to 14 by 2023 and 16 by 2024. 

This bill would almost double the number of online sportsbooks from the nine that are currently allowed to operate in New York. New operators wouldn’t be limited to large corporate brands, either. 

“There is a significant push to diversify and provide opportunities to minority-owned businesses,” Antenucci said. 

While the number of sports betting operators could increase in 2023, another industry, recreational cannabis, is coming online in summer 2023. According to the New York Times, that legislation’s goal is to award half of the industry’s licenses to “equity applicants, minority- and women-owned businesses, and people who have relatives with a marijuana conviction.” 

With increased attention on equity in the cannabis industry, Antenucci believes that the same attention could transfer to the overlapping expansion of the sports betting industry. That could mean attention on minority- and women-owned sportsbooks, but it could also add startups into New York’s sports betting industry.

“I don’t think they’ll [New York regulators] try to oversaturate the market,” Antenucci said. “But I do think you’ll see additional players come online, [and] they’ll be smaller platforms.”

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Potential New York Sports Betting Changes 

New York legislators are already working on legislation that would increase the number of mobile sportsbooks in-state. Lawmakers haven’t acted on lifting college restrictions yet. But lawmakers will likely at least consider the issue as mobile sports betting revenue continues to impress. 

One set of milestones could bring the college betting restrictions up in the legislature. Any growth in betting handle that New York sports betting sees in September 2022 will attract lawmakers’ attention. In mature markets, March is the last month of sports betting’s peak season. There’s a slump in handle from April to August. Then in September, handle peaks again. 

In new markets, each peak season generates a higher level of handle than the previous peak season. So, the next financial milestones after March Madness probably won’t be until fall 2022. 

Whatever new highs the next peak season reaches, they may be among the most significant forces encouraging New York lawmakers to find additional ways to further increase mobile sports betting revenue.

About the Author

Chris Gerlacher

Christopher Gerlacher is a senior contributing writer for NY Sports Day. With an interest in both sports and finance, his passion is analyzing the sports betting industry, where his two interests intersect.

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