Will Tioga Downs Opening in NY Start Online Gambling Discussion?

by Kyle Miller

Tioga Downs Casino New YorkAfter the first of four casinos has opened in New York, will legislators begin the discussion of online gambling?

Late last week the Tioga Downs Casino was open for business, offering full service casino gaming in the state of New York. The casino is the first of four gaming venues set to offer gambling in the northern portion of the state and now many are wondering if this will spur talks of online gambling.

Back in 2013, the residents of New York voted in approval of a referendum that would allow as many as four casinos to be created upstate. With the expansion, New York would see almost double the gaming opportunities as the state already has five tribal gaming venues. When the approval for the commercial casinos were made, lawmakers did consider online options but wanted to get the ball rolling on land based gaming first. Now that the first casino has opened, will talks begin again involving iGaming?

The Four Casinos

Last Friday, the Tioga Downs Casino opened to offer almost 1,000 slot machines and thirty three gaming tables. The gaming venue is in full swing as many individuals have arrived in Nichols to see what Tioga has to offer. The three additional casinos set to open in the state include the Montreign Resort Casino in the Catskills, Rivers Casino & Resort in Schnectady and the del Lago Resort & Casino in Finger Lakes. Each of these venues are expected to open by next year.

Shifting Focus

Now that the first gambling venue is open and the remaining three set for next year, the New York Assembly may now shift their focus to online gambling. Lawmakers in the state had said previously that they felt like New York was not ready to handle multiple forms of gambling being expanded at one time. Back in the spring, J. Gary Pretlow, an Assemblyman of the state, commented during the iGNA that as the state had just licensed four land based casinos and none had opened yet, these operations needed to be up and running before online options would be the focus. Reportedly, three of the four gaming venues being created are interested in becoming involved with an online gambling industry.

Now the question comes, should the state wait to become involved in online gaming? There are two sides to the issue. Some might say that lawmakers should wait and see how successful land based gaming is, giving the casinos time to establish their footing. However, others might say that the state should jump at the chance now that commercial casinos are in place. New York would most likely operate online casino gaming like New Jersey, where land based casinos partner with online operators to offer gaming.

For now, it will be interesting to see if legislators come back in 2017 with online gambling on their minds. In 2016, lawmakers were able to pass legislation in regards to daily fantasy sports. As far as Assemblyman Pretlow is concerned, DFS is not gambling and it was easily passed in the Assembly.

According to Pretlow, when you gamble there is a bet and if you change the best the odds change based on who is wagering. With DFS, you are paying an entry fee and you are locked in. You cannot change the amount and there is a set prize pool. Pretlow stated that DFS is not considered gambling and poker cannot be found as not gambling.

It was much easier to see legislation put in place for DFS gaming as poker legislation stalled of the online gaming variety. We shall see if 2017 is lucrative for the state as far as land based commercial gaming is concerned and if players might be able to enjoy online gambling in the future, if lawmakers can decide to create and pass legislation.