Tioga Downs sets sights on sports gambling legalization

In Nichols, New York, if owner, Jeff Gural, (pictured) has his way, Tioga Downs Casino and Resort will be offering sports gambling in-house and online in time for the 2018 NFL regular season, which begins on September 6, 2018.

After the U.S. Supreme Court on May 14 struck down a 26-year-old federal law that effectively prevented all but four states from legalizing sports betting, single-game wagering can now be legalized by states should they choose to do so.

In New York, horse and harness racing is legal and regulated and daily fantasy sports has been legal and regulated since August 2016. While sports betting was legalized in The Empire State in 2013, the scope of the New York Gaming Economic Development Act is narrow as it limits wagering to the four new commercial casinos in the upstate region. The 2013 law as written, directs the state’s Gaming Commission to create rules relating to sports betting, with forms of wagering being one item it will need to determine.

Marketing manager for Tioga Downs, Jim Weed, said, “Pending legislation, we’ll be ready to go with this. So we’re excited.”

Last week a deal was secured between the casino and Dublin-headquartered bookmaker, Paddy Power Betfair, which recently added daily fantasy sports firm, FanDuel, to its growing portfolio of leading sports brands. The deal makes it a matter of when and if legislation is passed before patrons of Tioga Downs can bet on any sport, with management reportedly confirming that in-house and online sports wagering would be permitted.

“It’s going to be very similar to Las Vegas, so if you’ve done sports wagering in Vegas…all the prop bets, whether it’s wins/losses, things as simple as the outcome of the coin toss for the Super Bowl,” explained Weed.

According to the news agency, 75-year-old Gural, who in addition to owning and operating Tioga Downs, runs the harness racing track, Meadowlands Racetrack, in East Rutherford, New Jersey as well as the racino, Vernon Downs, in Vernon, New York, has communicated with state lawmakers to push for sports betting legalization.

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Weed reportedly said, “We’re confident that this thing is gonna happen, now it’s just a matter of when…the whole tri-state area is going to go after it, so it’s just a matter of who gets it first.”

In January this year, Senator, John J. Bonacic, called on the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, which he chairs, to hold a public hearing on sports betting, and in March introduced comprehensive legislation that would address in-person and mobile sports betting in New York.

Senate Bill S7900 would amend the 2013 law to allow for sports and mobile wagering at ca 7BALL sinos, off-track betting parlors and racetracks. The 14-page bill also includes detailed provisions regarding tax rates, bettor eligibility, consumer protection and restrictions on specific types of sports wagers, along with establishing a “sports betting integrity fund,” and a system for remuneration of an integrity fee to sports leagues.