New York and Ohio Will Likely Not Legalize Full-Scale Sports Betting This Year

With 2020 coming to a close, the legislative merry-go-round that’s happening in New York State and Ohio regarding legal betting legislation will likely mean that state-wide legalization in both jurisdictions can only happen next year – at the earliest. Both states have been in a sort of limbo for months, and right now, are each faced with an inability to reach a consensus that would ideally spell out the fine details of any bill related to legal online sports betting.

Earlier, it was reported that legislators and other political and industry bigwigs in New York and Ohio were even more motivated to push legal sports betting legislation through the legislative system in a bid to recoup some of the losses dealt by the pandemic. The lobbyists argued that sports betting can generate huge profits and so, in the context of 2020, it constituted a feasible revenue stream for states that have felt the brunt of the closures and sports suspensions.

In Ohio

Legislators in the Buckeye State have been making moves towards legalizing online gambling in Ohio since 2018, however, a series of stumbling blocks have seemed to always come in the way of passing a conclusive piece of legislature. Allegedly, problems like disagreements on tax rates, political in-fighting, and a lack of sufficient house votes at crucial moments are some of the peripheral reasons for this failure.

Undoubtedly, the major reason that legal sports betting hasn’t become a reality in Ohio is simple: lawmakers are at loggerheads regarding what state agency will run sports betting in the state. Divided across two opinions, one side wants Ohio’s Casino Commission to oversee the activity whilst the other thinks the State Lottery will serve as a more capable governing body. Simply put, Ohio’s legislature can’t agree on who should be in charge of sports betting and neither side is refusing to back down on their opinion.

In New York

Things are more complicated when it comes to gambling legislation in New York than in Ohio. Remarkably, New York managed to swiftly pass laws allowing retail-only sports betting in 2019. Many industry watchers thought that full-scale legal sports wagering was the next step in the same trajectory. However, with the way New York, led by Governor Andrew Cuomo, has been circling the issue, it may take a while for definitive sports betting laws to pass.

The major stumbling blocks on the way to legalized sports betting in New York are in the form of a few individuals: Assembly Speaker Cark Hastie and the aforementioned Governor Andrew Cuomo. Pro-gambling legislators like Assemblyman Gary Pretlow and Senator Joseph Addabado Jr. have tried to get the governor to change his stance and expand sports wagering in the state past the limited retail-only channel. He hasn’t, maintaining his position on the matter even in the face of a predicted $13.1 billion shortfall in 2021.

Regarding Hastie, he has considerable pull in the state legislature, despite the veto power that Governor Cuomo has on the matter. Hastie can leverage the right number of votes in the State Assembly to sway a favorable decision. One thing remains certain: any legislative effort that finally brings full-scale sports betting to New York with the next few years will have to pass through Carl Hastie’s docket.

The Bottom Line

There appears to be a more straightforward path in Ohio than in New York. With the latter, one side has to dominate and force through its proposed candidate as the regulating body for sports betting in Ohio. This looks like the only major crinkle to iron out.

New York legislators, on the other hand, have to, at least, get Carl Hastie firmly behind their efforts or face the continued trend of residents handing wager money to neighboring New Jersey.


Our in-house expert for all things regulation, Jackson covers all major recent developments across US states relating to gambling laws & legislation.