This year has seen some major improvements in New York sports betting laws, with the legalization of sports betting in the Empire State. But when did it actually become legal for sports bettors in New York to place wagers and what exactly does it mean for the future of sports betting in the Big Apple? Let’s take a quick look back at the history of legal sports betting in New York.
A Brief History Of Legal Sports Betting In New York
The history of legal sports betting in New York is long and rich, spanning over a century and encompassing several different sports and gaming venues. But if you’re looking to learn more, here’s a brief timeline documenting the most important events in the grand scheme of legal sports betting in New York.
April 11, 1910: Black Sox Scandal
One of the most significant events that led to the legalization of sports betting was the Black Sox Scandal, when thirteen men were accused of throwing the World Series in 1920. The trial was a landmark case that eventually led to the legalization of legal sports betting in New York State. The scandal caused a great deal of outrage at the time and still has a considerable impact on modern-day sports fans. Fortunately, the betting scandal was ultimately proven to be without merit and the men weren’t convicted of any crimes. Still, the damage was done and it wasn’t long before the general public turned against sports gambling.
October 27, 1940: Betting On College Football
Another important date in the history of legal sports betting in New York was October 27, 1940. That’s when the New York State Legislature passed a bill that would’ve legalized sports betting, had it not been for one key senator named Alfred Everson. Everson had been vehemently opposed to sports gambling and worked tirelessly to have the bill he helped write die in committee. He was joined by a number of other senators who also opposed the bill, preventing it from becoming law. However, after the bill was reported out of committee and Everson’s opposition became public knowledge, gamblers and bookmakers alike began taking bets on college football. The bill was eventually passed by the State Legislature in 1945 and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Everson v. New York State Board of Equalization. In other words, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the right of the state of New York to legalize sports betting.
September 18, 1949: College Basketball
The legalization of college sports betting didn’t happen overnight. It took a while for the NCAA to figure out how to handle sports betting and what limits to place on it. In fact, it wasn’t until September 18, 1949 that the NCAA passed a resolution allowing college sports betting. During that time, however, bookmakers and gamblers alike flocked to the state of New York and began taking wagers on college basketball. The state quickly became the Mecca for sports betting, particularly since it was already established that the NCAA opposed sports gambling. Several different scandals would ensue, with the bookmakers attempting to stay one step ahead of the various governmental bodies that sought to shut them down. But for the most part, New York State would become the epicenter of the NCAA’s war on sports gambling.
June 25, 1991: Professional Football
We couldn’t talk about legal sports betting in New York without mentioning the major influence it had on the development of professional football. It all started in 1960, when the AFL and the NFL merged to form the modern-day NFL. Several of the merged teams immediately began playing preseason games, which meant they had to find somewhere to host them. New York proved to be a perfect location and the city would eventually become the home of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills. The first official game between the Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals was held at New York’s Rich Stadium on September 9, 1970. Since then, the popularity of professional football in the city has only continued to grow.
That brings us to the present day, where legalized sports betting is a reality in New York. The law was first passed in June 2018 and went into effect this past Monday, August 26. Still, it wasn’t until October 2018 that casinos were able to begin taking wagers, with the majority of the year’s sportsbooks opening on Sunday, October 7, 2018.
So, when did New York legalize sports betting? On June 25, 1991, the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals played the first ever preseason game at Rich Stadium in the city. Since then, the popularity of football in the city has only continued to grow and as a result, so has the popularity of sports betting in New York.