New York is considering further expansion to its sports betting offerings. Recently, New York Assemblymember Jarett Gandolfo introduced two legislations, that if passed, would legalize Super Bowl Square pools at bars and restaurants in the state. But in order for that to happen it would require a change in state constitution, which one of the bills would do if passed.
For those unaware, Super Bowl Squares is a popular and casual betting game most often played among office pools, families, and friends. Over the years, numerous bars and restaurants have held squares pools during the Super Bowl, despite it not being exactly legal even though the state offers legal sports betting in retail and online form.
Bill A6890 and A6880
Mr. Gandolfo does not expect the bill to pass in the current legislative year but believes forcing a vote would come next year. The first legislation, Bill A6890, states that it would pave the way for legalizing pool-selling, which the state constitution currently forbids. The bill suggests a constitutional amendment that would allow the state to authorize pool-selling without profit.
Meanwhile, the second legislation, Bill A6880, would legalize pool selling. Its language states that it would allow bars and restaurants to organize and manage sports squares pools, However, there is a requirement, that those establishments do not make profits from such pools. Currently, the bill is sitting in the Assembly’s Racing and Wagering Committee.
The Assemblymember said bars have been running pools for years while not taking any cuts of the pooled prize money. He explained that it was a way for them to attract customers to check their number or make their pick while grabbing a drink a having a quick bite to eat. He said it is not technically legal but it was largely unenforced.
In January 2022, New York State introduced its first online sports betting market for private operators. Mr. Gandolfo said that after its legalization, the State Liquor Authority started to crack down on the practice of pools at bars. This led to upset in businesses as it took away a tool that they have used to help drive extra business during the slower months.
Also, the Assemblymember is not worried about the impact on mobile sports betting, as New York bagged over US$1 billion in sports betting revenue in the first year. He believes football pools at bars will not be a threat to this revenue stream and wants the practice to be formally legalized. He also said the state will not need legislation if it wanted to enforce the ban.
With the increase of sports betting offerings in the state, officials have also recognized the need in enhancing problem gambling protections. Recently, the New York State Gaming Commission and Office of Addiction Services and Supports introduced the voluntary self-exclusion Support program. It allows players to willingly enroll and take a break from playing for a certain period of time as a way of tackling the problem.
Source: Vanbiber, Hannah “Assembly Considering Legislation To Legalize Super Bowl Squares-Style Games As NY Sports Betting Grows” PlayNY, June 26, 2023