New York Horse Tracks Might Be Able To Add Sports Betting Kiosks

Written By Derek Helling on April 4, 2023
online sports betting in New York considered for tracks

If a new proposal in the state legislature sees success, New York gambling enthusiasts might be able to bet on human athletes as well as equine performers at their favorite horse tracks. The latest idea for expanding New York sports betting would include such facilities.

The expansion intends to add more funding for education in New York. While it could bring in-person gambling on sporting events to more places in the state, the new gambling type could look very different from one facility to the next.

Another New York sports betting pop could happen soon

Just over a year after the first legal online sportsbooks in New York launched, a bill in the New York assembly suggests another expansion. This time, it’s of the physical variety. A 5923 adds horse racing tracks and off-track betting sites to the list of facilities that can accept in-person bets on sporting events.

Currently, the only such places that can legally do so in the state are commercial and tribal casinos. The bill includes both harness and thoroughbred tracks. The tax dollars from revenue on such gambling would go toward education in New York.

Most of the 11 existing tracks in the state currently do not offer such gambling.

Tioga Downs is the site of a Class III casino as well as a track. For that reason, it has contained a physical sportsbook for years now. Most of the other tracks in the state do not have casino licenses, however.

That applies even more uniformly to off-track betting parlors in New York. This bill would allow them to expand their offerings. At the same time, it’s debatable how many of them will embrace the opportunity.

Sports betting might not be ‘exacta’ what tracks want

Even if A 5923 becomes law in New York, OTBs and tracks might not line up to fire out once the gates open. There are several reasons why this potential expansion could be rather reserved.

First, results from other places where horse tracks can offer bets on human sports show limited crossover. It’s unclear if New Yorkers would behave differently. The prevailing wisdom is that people who bet on horses and people who bet on sports are different crowds.

Horse race betting in New York works on pari-mutuel pools. Meanwhile, sportsbooks use fixed odds. The differences in those systems play a part in limiting crossover interest.

Also, with the availability of sports betting apps in the state, it’s unclear how many people would make a trip to an OTB or track to bet on sports. Even people at live or simulcast horse racing facilities might place their sports bets on their phones instead.

Because the interest could be minimal, OTBs and tracks might determine offering sports betting isn’t worth the cost. For most of them, simply making it available would require leasing terminals and related expenses. They might not see enough action to realize a profit.

Some of the more robust tracks, like Belmont Park, might benefit from the opportunity, though. If A 5923 becomes law, they will have an opportunity to investigate that situation.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including legislation and litigation in the gaming industry. He enjoys reading hundreds of pages of a gambling bill or lawsuit for his audience. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa.

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