Football betting in New York

Through the 2010s, Atlantic City has been more well-known historically for its gambling facilities than its massive neighbor the Empire State. Ironically, however, the Supreme Court cases based in New Jersey will ultimately again foster gambling on sports in New York.

Year 2015 saw an explosion in daily fantasy football and other DFS games, particularly in terms of television advertising. High-ranking New York State district attorneys may not have been the nation’s first to block residents from playing fantasy sports for money online, but the state’s virtual firewall against the Draft Duel ad Fan Kings of the internet precipitated legal action all over the U.S. Ultimately, DFS games were re-legalized in the state in time for the 2016 NFL season, but if your state’s extant law on DFS is still too restrictive for your liking, blame New York.

Betting in New York

From a 21st-century vantage point, it may be difficult to imagine New York as the center of anti-betting sentiment in the U.S.A., but this state was certainly America’s toughest on gambling in the 19th century. A ban on games of chance was enacted in 1821, a good one-third to half a century before most of the rest of the country passed similar laws. Furthermore, in 1864 and ’94, extant gambling law was made even more restrictive so as to ban even the possibility of lottery-type games.

Naturally, this led to operations of organized crime essentially unimaginable in nearly any other state. Some estimates figure that by 1850, up to 6,000 illegal gaming operations were doing healthy business in New York City alone. How healthy? About $145 million (in today’s dollars) per year’s worth – if you can make it there, eh?

The economic realities of the Great Depression in the early 1930s loosened up lawmakers vis-à-vis gambling law in New York. As in many other states, the legal minds of New York reckoned that the legalization of pari-mutuel betting at the state’s horse tracks would bring in more revenue.

The 1950s saw U.S. senator Estes Kefauver’s crusade to rid state and local governments of the pernicious influence of mafiosi and other organized-crime types, and much of the concomitant police action was focused in New York. By the late 50s, New York lawmakers felt sufficiently confident to legalize bingo and opened up a state lottery in ’66; the former new law led to the opening of Native American-operated bingo halls in the 90s, which were soon expanded to include the classic casino games you’d expect.

Despite the modern Native American casinos – today some 14 such casinos plus another 14 “racinos” are in operation as of this writing – New York continues to take a relatively conservative stance against online gambling. In 2009, state authorities seized some $34 million in winnings accrued by players at Poker Stars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker. Then-U.S. attorney for New York southern district Preet Bharara then brought a lawsuit against the sites, leading to “Black Friday” in ’11, when U.S. players were effectively shut off from playing for real money at any poker websites. And in ’15, New York legal forces took action against DFS, as noted above.

Despite the reticence in New York to truly liberalize betting law in the state, the legalization of sports betting is certainly to come in the early 2020s – there’s just simply too much money in the pursuit for Empire State lawmakers to ignore.

Football in New York

For NFLbets, the history of football in New York begins at the very dawn of the game and ends with Joe Namath. Since 1970, New York state has lost the privilege to host two of its three formerly state-based teams; college football in New York has been even more pitiful in college football since the national shift away from Ivy League ball in the post-World War II era. The disappointing history of New York football follows in bullet point format.

•  1872. The first organized gridiron football game goes down in New York: Rutgers vs Columbia ends in a 0-0 tie.

•  1890. Army, which ultimately would go down as New York’s most famous football team, hosts the Naval Academy team at West Point. Final score: Navy 24, Army 0.

•  1914. For obvious reasons, Army becomes New York's first national college football champion; not coincidentally, they'd next be #1 at season's end in 1944.

•  1915. Cornell takes its first of two national titles, with the second coming in 1921.

•  1927. The New York Giants go 11-1-1 and win their first NFL title. Today, the ’27 Giants may be acknowledged as the oldest extant team to have won the championship.

•  1939. The first-ever televised football game is played in New York City, featuring not exactly the teams you’d guess, as Fordham tops Wynesburg, 34-7.

•  1958. Often called the greatest NFL game ever played, the NFL Championship Game pitting the New York Giants against the Baltimore Colts at old Yankee Stadium is typically cited by sports historians as the event that flipped the popularity of pro football and college football in the U.S. The Colts denied the Giants their 5th NFL title by winning the game 23-17 in overtime.

•  1959. The Syracuse Orangemen, led by All-Americans RB Ernie Davis and OG Roger Davis, wins the national title. This represents the last time a New York-based college team has won the national college football title.

•  1960. The American Football League is formed to challenge the monolithic NFL. Among the teams starting with the new association are the New York Titans and Buffalo Bills. From 1965 to ’67, the Bills appear in three consecutive AFL title games, winning two.

•  1968-69. Joe Namath of the Jets (née Titans of New York) sells his soul to the devil. After a miraculous comeback against the defending AFL champion Oakland Raiders in the infamous Heidi Game, Broadway Joe then nearly spilled the beans in a pre-game conference, guaranteeing that his unsung Jets would top the mighty Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. In exchange for a single season of success, Namath handed over his immortal soul to Satan in addition to selling out the future of professional football in New York forever.

•  1973. The Giants move to New Haven, Connecticut, for the ’73 and ’74 seasons. After playing the 1975 season in the revitalized Yankee Stadium, the Giants move to New Jersey in ’76 and have played there ever since.

•  1983. Beginning with a tie against Bucknell in week six of the NCAA football season, the Columbia Tigers proceed to go on a 0-44-3 “run” that sets a new winless-streak record until broken in the early 90s.

•  1984. The Jets leave New York for – get this – Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, leaving the country’s then-biggest state with just one NFL team.

•  1991. Bringing their innovative new no-huddle “hurry-up” offense, Marv Levy’s Buffalo Bills are installed as 6½-point favorites against the New York New Jersey Giants. The Bills lose 20-19 when, due to Namath’s contract, Scott Norwood’s last-second field goal attempt is pushed wide right by the forces of evil.

•  1992. The Bills lose Super Bowl XXVI.

•  1993. The Bills lose Super Bowl XXVII.

•  1994. The Bills lose Super Bowl XXVIII.

•  1999. In what would be their last playoff appearance until 2018, the Bills are hosed in Tennessee by what is typically called “The Music City Miracle.” In upstate New York, however, the play is forever to be known as “The Forward Pass.” (Yo, Marv, you should’ve started Doug Flutie, dude.)

•  2001. The New York/New Jersey Hitmen play in the XFL's inaugural season. No one notices.

•  2009. The New YorkNew Jersey Jets select QB Mark Sanchez at #1 overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. Later in the year, the New York Post, apparently still operating under the delusion that the Jets no longer play in New York, first coins the term "The Sanchise."

•  2012.

•  2017. In October in Buffalo, the Western Michigan Broncos and the University of Buffalo Bulls played to a 31-31 knotting in regular time, then went on to play seven overtime periods. The final score of WMU 71, Buffalo 68, set an all-time college football record for points scored in a game.

•  2018. The Buffalo Bills somehow squeeze into the playoffs at 9-7 and lose a sorry 10-3 game to the Jacksonville Jaguars, meaning that the Bills have yet to score a postseason touchdown in the 21st century. And New York state professional football fans’ futility marches on.

Betting on Football in New York 

In terms of casino gambling, steady growth in New York’s industry has been seen in the first 1½ decades of the 21st century, and this tendency should only rise in the twilight of Atlantic City’s gambling era. And as mentioned earlier, betting on daily fantasy sports is now alive, well and freely available to state residents.

The remaining question, then, is when New York lawmakers and legislators will make betting on football and other sports legal. New York state attorneys were far ahead of the curve in studying DFS, with special regard to the luck/skill factor in that form of betting. Writing from the just-post-SCOTUS rulings on sports gambling, NFLbets reckons that New York should be in an early wave of states legalizing sports bets for citizens, but the legal system will certainly take its time – while NYC residents likely spend their wagering bankroll across the border in ’Jersey…