New York sports betting has made a splash since launching earlier this year. Now, some are already looking to the Empire State to legalize online casino gaming. Truth be told, it could be years before online casinos make their way to New York. Will they be worth the wait?
The short answer is yes. In fact, it’s to a player’s advantage to wait for legal NY online casinos instead of springing for offshore, gray market options. We’ll outline everything you need to know on this page.
Why New York Residents Should Wait For Legal Online Casinos
There are myriad reasons you should steer clear of offshore online casinos. We’ll cover the vast majority of them on this page. For now, let’s briefly touch on a few key points.
First, legal online casinos — when they come to New York — will be regulated, likely by the New York State Gaming Commission. The organization already regulates NY sports betting, and many of the protections in the palace exist so players like you can enjoy online gambling with peace of mind and financial security.
Other reasons you should wait for NY online casinos are directly related to the offshore platforms you shouldn’t use, and we’ll cover those in more detail later on.
Legal Vs. Offshore Gambling In NY: What’s The Difference?
The difference is quite simple in practice, though as a new or casual online casino player, it could be difficult to tell the platforms apart.
A legal online casino is fully licensed and approved to operate. There’s one easy way to tell if a NY online casino is legal. If a casino allows you to play online in New York right now, it is illegal. Simple as that, because NY has yet to approve any online casinos to operate in the state.
In other words, any online casino in New York purporting you can play online for real money is an offshore site that is not legal in the state.
Offshore/Gray Market Casinos: The Downsides
Offshore sites may appear to have all their ducks in a row. They may look just like legal online casinos in some ways. But they’re risky to use (at best), so stay away.
First, offshore casinos aren’t licensed to legally offer their services in New York. You won’t find any licensing info on their sites, whereas legal online casinos in regulated markets have licensing information readily available on their site.
Second, offshore casinos typically target players in states where real-money casino gaming is prohibited. This means they can feature worse odds and, by extension, worse payouts on their games. You might play at a gray market site and get less winnings than you would at a legal site, even if you have a really lucky day.
Third, offshore sites have mediocre customer service at best. They often have limited hours or methods of communication, making it hard to resolve any issue.
Finally — and this is a big one — in theory, offshore sites could shut down without a moment’s notice, bringing all your money with them. If you care for your financial security, this is a massive reason you should stay away.
The Case For Legal NY Online Casinos
Many New Yorkers want legal online casinos, and they have plenty of sound reasoning to back up this desire.
Sportsbooks in the state pay 51% of their revenue in taxes. Regulating online casinos could bring even more tax revenue for the state.
Additionally, New York borders New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, three states that have already legalized online casino gaming. As it stands, NY is losing potential online casino revenue to players who travel across the border to play.
Finally, New York may legalize it because the threat of gray market online casinos looms. The state doesn’t want to lose revenue to these skates, and players are safer using regulated platforms. It’s a win-win.
The Case Against Online Casinos In New York
Opponents of legal online casino gambling usually boil down to a single point: it’s a vice. And that’s true. Problem gambling accounts for a very small percentage of actual gambling, but it does exist. Some opponents believe legalizing online casinos gives those select few people easier access.
There may also be pushback from the state’s handful of retail casinos, which obviously want revenue to continue at their land-based properties. Usually, retail properties are allowed to license online casinos when a state regulates, which could offset this worry if it happened in New York.
When New York Is Expected To Legalize Online Casinos
The jury’s out on this one. State Senator Joseph Addabbo, who was instrumental in bringing sports betting to NY, aims to include online casinos in the 2023-24 budget.
Let’s say, in a perfect world, he succeeds and a bill is passed in late 2023. Even then, online casinos could be delayed to 2025 or later. Once online casinos are legalized, a lot of regulatory work needs to be done before they are cleared to launch.
Simply put, don’t hold your breath for NY online casinos any time soon. It could be multiple years before they become a reality.
What To Expect When NY Online Casinos Are Legal
Well, first things first. Expect a contentious legal battle to determine who will be able to license and operate online casinos in the state. California’s sports betting battle is an example of how fraught a state’s legalization attempts can be. Like in California, New York has so many stakeholders vying for an advantageous position: the government, sportsbook operators, Native American Tribes, and more.
Because regulations take time, you’ll probably hear that online casinos in New York are “legal” long before you can actually sign up and start playing. This is thanks to lengthy regulatory processes that follow formal legislation. New York will need to establish certain practices and rules, then dole out licenses and approve operators for launch based on stipulations set by organizations overseeing the industry. It’s a lot of logistical mumbo-jumbo that effectively adds up to “just wait until platforms are live.”
If New York’s sports betting industry is any indicator, though, we expect online casinos to make a big splash with players and earn the state a huge chunk of revenue.
AP Photo/Wayne Parry