BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Sports betting is legal in New York, and one of the most-hyped sporting events of the year is upon us.
But if you’re looking to place a bet on the NFL Draft this week, you’re going to be disappointed.
Whether you’re using an app or visiting a casino, you won’t find any NFL Draft markets available for betting in the Empire State. You can’t bet on who’s going first overall, who the Bills will select, or any of the numerous prop bets available in other states.
The reason, according to the New York State Gaming Commission, is simple.
“The NFL draft does not fit into the definition of sports wagering as defined by statute,” a spokesperson for the Gaming Commission said.
The Commission pointed to Section 1367 (1)(x) of the state’s Racing, Pari-Mutuel Wagering and Breeding Law:
(x) “Sports wagering” means wagering on sporting events or any portion thereof, or on the individual performance statistics of athletes participating in a sporting event, or combination of sporting events, by any system or method of wagering … provided however that sports wagers shall include, but are not limited to, single-game bets, teaser bets, parlays, over-under bets, money line, pools, in-game wagering, in-play bets, proposition bets, and straight bets;
The draft doesn’t count as a “sporting event” because the law defines that as “an event at which two or more persons participate in sports or athletic events and receive compensation in excess of actual expenses for their participation in such event.”
But just because betting on drafts isn’t currently permitted doesn’t mean it never will be, said State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., a Queens Democrat who chairs the Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering.
“It’s just what we started out with,” Addabbo told News 4. “I’ve said to many, the first incarnation, the first variation of mobile sports betting in New York isn’t going to be the last. We’re already thinking about, ‘OK, can we look to increase the number of operators, can we look to incorporate horse racing or NASCAR?’ Something like that.
“I have colleagues who want to bet on the Oscars or the Grammys,” he said. “I think in due time, it’s been proven over the course of the three months or so that New York has been successful with the mobile sports betting, that we should — for the sake of providing a better product for our people — stand ready to do the changes that we need to do in a very safe manner. And I think we are. We almost looked at it for this year’s budget process, expanding the operators, but we felt, maybe we’ll do that a little later on. The number of operators, the tax rate and everything else, we’ll look at it a little later on and see.”
Addabbo made a distinction between events that state law specifically prohibits from sports betting, such as games including New York college teams and all high school sporting events, and events like the NFL Draft.
“I wouldn’t say banned, but it’s not included,” Addabbo said. “We specifically banned betting a New York college team. … We specifically did that with the intent of protecting the college player in New York. That was intentional, that was specific. This one’s a little gray area.
“If we need to make it more specific in improving it somewhere down the line, then we will,” he added. “The question is, is it a statutory amendment or a constitutional amendment? That’s what we’ll have to find out.”
New York is not the only state that has mobile sports betting but doesn’t offer the draft – Pennsylvania, Virginia, Connecticut and Iowa don’t offer draft markets either. But these five states are in the minority: According to DraftKings, 12 other states in which they can offer a mobile app accept wagers on the draft, including bordering New Jersey.
“DraftKings believes that creating artificial barriers for customers, such as restricting markets on events like the NFL Draft, deter bettors from moving to the legal market and ultimately minimizes revenue opportunities for states,” the company said in a statement. “If given the opportunity, DraftKings would love to offer our customers with markets on the NFL Draft.”
Addabbo also mentioned the potential lost revenue from New Yorkers crossing state lines to place bets.
“The accessibility of Pennsylvania, Connecticut, certainly New Jersey, was one of the factors to encourage us to do mobile sports betting in New York,” he said. “We had done a hearing, the committee had done a hearing and found that 25% of Jersey’s mobile sports activity was New Yorkers. I’m guessing that for a person who wants to do a certain sport and we don’t offer it, they get on the subway and go to New Jersey. So that still bothers me, if that’s the case.”
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Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here.