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Why is Futures Betting Restricted in New York?

Last Updated: February 3, 2022
With the fine print of New York state’s sports gambling law coming into focus, residents are learning about all the things they can’t bet on that their out-of-state neighbors can.

Any New York bettor who wants to wager on who will win the NBA Most Valuable Player award is welcome to do so. But not from the comfort of their own home. Gotta make the drive to New Jersey or Connecticut for that one.

Same with baseball’s Cy Young award, or prospective SuperBowl MVP wagers.

Yes, it would be nice to put down $20 on Tom Brady to win that award next month for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at odds of +600 — only Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Aaron Rodgers have shorter odds — but the rules of the game will not allow for it in the Empire State, where legalized gambling came online two Saturdays ago. Same with futures betting on the Heisman Trophy.

All told, the list of bets you simply cannot make in New York as things stand is probably longer than you think.

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A few types of sports bets that aren’t allowed in New York:
  • No player prop bets on college sporting events
  • No wagers on New York college teams
  • No bets on the length of the National Anthem during the Super Bowl, or what color Gatorade will be dumped on the winning coach
  • No bets on anything considered “negative,” such as how many turnovers a team will commit or how many fouls will be called by a referee

Nothing on the Oscars, Grammys, Emmys, or Tonys, either. Oh, and for all those Jets and Giants fans who just survived yet another season from hell, there is no wagering on who will be selected No. 4 overall by Gang Green or No. 5 overall by The Team Formerly Coached by Joe Judge.

It turns out that New York’s sports gambling law contains several exclusion areas that are only now becoming known, which is partly due to a lack of a centralized messaging system from state officials. Seasoned gamblers are learning this stuff through trial and error and from reaching out to customer service reps in online chat rooms. Folks in New Jersey have it much better, as part of the Garden State’s law requires phone calls to be answered by representatives of the gambling companies.

The devil is once again in the details, and the fine print of New York’s law comes increasingly to light, gamblers are seeing why one of the two state legislators that heads the New York State Gaming Commission warned more than two months ago that New Jersey will remain an alluring destination for big-money gamblers in New York.

Back then, we told our readers to consider themselves forewarned, but we also did that with the anticipation that New York’s wagering platforms would all come online at the same time.

That turned out not to be the case. Instead, the biggest sportsbooks including DraftKings, FanDuel, and Caesars were up and running on the first day of wagering, while others were not green-lighted quite as quickly. That caused a lot of grief at sportsbooks that are not quite the heavy hitters that those other companies are, but it is par for the course in the sports gambling landscape — Pretlow said each operator had to complete a 40-item checklist, and some achieved full compliance sooner than others.

Every time a new state comes online, there are rules that complicate the rollout. There is no uniformity to this phenomenon from a state to state basis, with only Michigan’s rollout considered “fair” with respect to all of the licensed operators coming online at the same time.

BetMGM, for example, did not come online in New York until Monday, and several sportsbooks are still waiting for the go-ahead from the state.

As Pretlow told Boardroom in a phone interview, he was only given one hour’s notice two weekends ago that online wagering was about to begin. A Democrat, Pretlow tried to work with former Gov. Andrew Cuomo on enacting a different type of law that would have allowed as many as 25 different companies to operate in New York with a lower tax rate than the 51% figure that was ultimately enacted — the highest in the nation for a state with multiple licensed operators.

The New York State Gaming Commission was ultimately stacked with Cuomo loyalists, and Pretlow and the former governor grew further apart on the issue. As a result, a bill that he and Joseph Addabbo Jr. co-sponsored in the state legislature was not enacted.

New York’s sports gambling law has a 10-year lifespan, but critically, changes can still be made if approved through the state legislature and signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Sports gambling is now legal in 26 states and the District of Columbia, with Maryland and Nebraska waiting for new state laws to be implemented. California plans to put sports wagering on the ballot later this year as part of a tribal gaming initiative.

Texas and Florida are the two biggest markets that the industry still wants to monetize, but Texas’ sports gambling law has been stuck in committee since last March, while Florida could have a sports gambling measure on the ballot this fall if sportsbook operators can convince another half a million residents to sign a petition that would allow for the market to open outside of the Hard Rock casinos operated by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Nearly four years after the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, nearly 80 percent of U.S. states have either legalized sports wagering or introduced legislation to do so.

Sports gambling companies operating in New York have seen an absolute flood of new customers rather than the trickle that many had forecast, reasoning that those who wanted to gamble on sports had already found a way to do so through operators in New Jersey and/or through bookies.

But with sports gambling companies putting their advertisements in slots designed to be viewed by several different demographics — some are advertising during television shows like Jeopardy! for example — there have been more new customers than many expected.

The sportsbooks are also offering huge sign-up bonuses to New Yorkers, but if they want to wager those bonuses on Ja Morant somehow winning the NBA’s MVP award or Obi Toppin coming out of nowhere to win Most Improved Player, they are out of luck.

Until further notice, those bets are only available to New Yorkers on the other side of a bridge or tunnel.

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