You might be familiar with the expression ‘total lock of the week’ when it comes to sports betting. The concept is that one team or player is going to perform exceptionally well throughout the entire week, and this is usually enough to convince punters that their selection is a sure thing. However, in most cases, the ‘total lock’ occurs because the chosen team happens to be exceptionally good at doing what it does, and not because of some secret plot by bookmakers to fleece the masses.
Although most states that allow sports betting consider it a crime to offer bets on athletic contests, New York was one of the first to legalize sports betting a long time ago, and continues to lead the way when it comes to the industry. This is mainly because New York is a lucrative market, and the state’s residents are very open to new opportunities. It should therefore come as no great surprise that New York is also home to many high-profile sports books that operate globally, such as Pinnacle, Betfair and more.
The question is: when did New York legally allow for sports betting? The answer is complicated because prior to 1968, sports betting was legal in the state, but the laws around it were vague at best. This is mainly because New York was a part of the ‘Grand Alliance’ that was formed in reaction to the Great Depression. The alliance was made up of New York, New Jersey and Canada, and the aim was to create a single market where everyone could trade and invest in securities, as well as take out loans against those same securities. Naturally, this included gambling, and the laws around it were very favorable to the industry.
In 1931, New Jersey became the first state to legalize sports wagering and poker games, with New York following suit in 1934. These laws allowed for sports books to open in the three states, and the number of locations increased to over 500 in the United States by 1942.
It should be noted that in some cases, the legality of sports betting in New York is still a bit murky. For example, pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing and dogfighting are still outlawed. However, the overall picture is of a state that was at the forefront of the sports betting movement, and continues to lead the way today.