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Why Can’t I Bet on the NBA Draft in My State?

Why Can’t I Bet on the NBA Draft in My State? article feature image

Michelle Farsi/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: The podium on stage prior to the 2021 NBA Draft at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Betting on the NBA draft has, in recent years, emerged as a popular angle to the hours long event, that — let’s face it — traditionally hasn’t been too interesting after the first couple of big names fall.

But while fans from around the country will be able to place bets on their team’s first pick, where their favorite college college player will go, etc. , those attending the 2022 NBA Draft at Barclays Center in Brooklyn Thursday won’t.

That’s because New York is among six legal betting states with mobile betting — Connecticut, Iowa, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Virginia — plus the District of Columbia that doesn’t count the NBA Draft as a sporting event. (If you add in non-mobile states that list grows to eight with North Carolina and Washington.)

New York, which amended its law in 2021 to include online wagering, defines an eligible sports betting event 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.”

That definition also prevents legal betting on future award winners like the 2023 MVP or Defensive Player of the Year. If you open up the NBA tab in any of New York’s eight up-and-running mobile apps, the only options you’ll see are for champion and conference winners.

There’s room for that to change, though it’ll require a new law.

Earlier this year, State Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. told Action Network it’s something he’s considering as he looks to expand sports betting in the future.

Lawmakers won’t meet again until next year, but this past session they explored a number of betting expansions that’ll likely re-emerge after New York has a full year of online gaming under its belt. Those included, more online sportsbooks, a lower tax rate, fixed mobile odds on horse races, as well as kiosk betting at stadiums.

Someday draft attendees may be able to bet on who goes No. 1 on the same concourse they buy a hotdog from, but for now they’ll have to wait.

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