Mohawk Nation Teams Up with Stars Group on New York Sports Book, Stars Eyes Future Online Potential

The Saint Regis Mohawk Nation of New York will partner with the Stars Group to bring sports betting to the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort in northern New York State, close to the border with Canada.

New York sports betting

The Stars Group has never operated a land-based sports book before but will provide support services for the Mohawk operation. Stars and its new investor, Fox, are gambling that mobile betting is just around the corner. (Image: Wayne Parry/AP)

The tribe said Tuesday it had already begun constructing what will be known as “Stick’s Sports Bar & Sports Book,” and it aims to open in the fall.

The Stars Group will provide “support services for the launch and operation” of the sports book, but the big draw for the exclusively online operator is an option written into the deal to “operate and brand real-money online sports betting, poker and casino in New York on a first skin basis.”

That’s subject to license availability, of course, because none of the above are yet legal in New York State. Should they become so, the state would quickly become the biggest sports betting and online gaming market in the US.

Two Tribes on Board

The Mohawks become the second tribal operator in the state to announce their intention to capitalize on the liberalization of sports betting laws in the US. The Oneida Nation said in May it would launch a sports book later this year, in partnership with Scientific Games and Caesars Entertainment.

The state’s other tribal operator, the Seneca Nation – which is engaged in a $255 million casino revenue-share dispute with Albany — has said it is “exploring its options” with regards to sports betting.

The tribes can offer sports betting under the terms of their compacts, which gives them the right to operate any type of class III gaming, provided it is available commercially anywhere else in the state.

Sports Books to Open for NFL Season

New York residents authorized sports betting in 2013 when they voted to legalize commercial casino gaming. That amendment created licenses for the four casinos now in operation upstate.

Since the US Supreme Court’s rejection of PASPA, the federal law that prohibited state-sanctioned sports betting last May, all that the four casinos – and by extension, the tribes — required to start the ball was a framework of regulation to be signed off by the New York Gaming Commission.

Those rules were signed off early last month and most operators will be looking to get their operations up and running in time for the new NFL season in September.

Future is Mobile

For now, sports betting will be land-based only — a legislative effort to add mobile betting into the mix failed during the session just ended. But the effort will resume next year, likely with the encouragement of Stars Group and Fox Sports lobbyists.

In May, Fox acquired a 4.99 percent share of the Stars Group for $236 million in a deal that will see Stars’ US-facing sports betting operations rebranded as FoxBet. It’s the first such deal between a gambling operator and a mainstream broadcaster in the US.

Analysts Eilers & Krejcik Gaming have estimated that a mature New York market with full-scale mobile sports betting would generate just over $1 billion in revenues per year.

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