Sports betting is underway in New York.
Rivers Casino and Resort in Schenectady, N.Y. cut the ribbon Tuesday on its new sports betting lounge and took its first bets on the New York Yankees and the Seattle Mariners.
Tioga Downs in the Southern Tier is expected to have a soft opening of its sportsbook on Wednesday with an official, fanfare-filled opening at 2 p.m. Friday. New York Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo will be on hand to place the first bet.
"I am confident it will be a great amenity to our facility, and I’m looking forward to officially cutting the ribbon on Friday," Jeff Gural, owner of Tioga Downs owner, told the Press & Sun-Bulletin in Binghamton, N.Y.
The FanDuel sportsbook lounge will have eight betting windows, more than a dozen self-serve kiosks, a large video wall and nearly 30 other screens, seating for 50 and more.
The remainder of upstate casinos — both tribal and state-licensed venues — are all working to be open for betting business by the official NFL season.
New York has some catching up to do.
The first bets taken in the state come a year after neighboring New Jersey won its lawsuit at the U.S. Supreme Court when justices overturned the sports betting monopoly held by Nevada. New Jersey was among the first states to legalize sports betting.
Since then, in-person and mobile-device gamblers have bet $3.2 billion. And in May, for the first time ever, The Garden State edged Nevada with the total amount of bets placed with $318.9 million wagered, roughly $1.5 million more than Nevada.
"Right now, Jersey is cleaning our clock when it comes to sports betting," state Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, D-Westchester County, who co-sponsored the failed mobile betting bill, told the Associated Press. “We’re a little behind."
Pretlow placed the inaugural bet at Rivers Casino – $20 on the Mariners.
On Tuesday, other Schenectady bettors were enjoying the amenities of Rivers Casino’s new sports lounge, 5,000 square feet devoted to sports betting with an 18-seat VIP seating area, 14 gambling kiosks and six betting windows. Gamblers raised a glass and ate a few hot dogs while placing wagers.
“I bet the Yankees to win the World Series, I bet 20 bucks,” one bettor told the New York Post.
But without the mobile component, New York will still lag behind New Jersey. It’s a three-hour drive from New York City to Rivers Casino, whereas many of the city’s residents will take the tunnel to New Jersey, bet with their smartphone, and return back to the city.
“I’m glad we’re breaking grounds on sports betting, but it would’ve been nice to have the mobile component. But it’s a baby step,” state Sen. Joe Addabbo (D-Queens) told the Post.