Betting on New York: Sports Wagering a Win-Win for the State

If the targeted ads on your favorite apps and social media platforms are being inundated with promotions for New York State sportsbooks, there is good reason. The New York State Gaming Commission authorized licenses for nine mobile sports wagering operators in early November, which have already brought in over $1.625 billion in wagers since launching in January 2022.

Of the nine licensed operators, seven have received final approval and are currently taking bets: DraftKings, FanDuel, Caesars, BetMGM, PointsBet, BetRivers, and WynnBET – although there are rumors that this last sportsbook may be put up for sale, which would allow a new company to get their hands on one of the coveted licenses. Of the two remaining sportsbooks, Resorts World Bet has yet to begin operations despite promising to be up and running before the Super Bowl, while Bally Bet is aiming for an April launch.

“When we brought mobile sports betting to New York, we had confidence it was going to be a success, but to be able to break the national record of total handle for sports betting in a single month in our very first month, with primarily only six sportsbooks, is both rewarding and exciting,” said State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., the Chair of the NYS Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee. “Breaking this record proves that New York was ready for mobile sports betting and we are providing our state with a new revenue, educational and addiction funding source. The future is extremely bright for mobile sports betting in New York,” the lawmaker added. 

It seems bright for the state’s coffers as well. The legalization of mobile sports betting in New York has led to a bonanza, with operators racing each other to the starting line and enticing players with an array of promotional deals, each more tantalizing than the next. The intense pressure to launch before Super Bowl LVI was met with equal ambition on the part of industry leaders, and resulted in prodigious success – and a few hiccups, too. The Caesars Sportsbook app crashed for several hours on its inaugural night; only a few weeks later, the company again drew criticism from users, who complained that customer service was lacking. 

These fumbles (pardon the pun) highlight an issue of critical importance: user experience. In order for the mobile wagering industry to secure player loyalty – not to mention sustained growth – operators have to provide an interface that is engaging and easy to use. Ideally, innovations in mobile wagering services will find a way to reproduce the social connection and cohesion that in-person sporting events generate. Soo Kim, chairman of Bally’s Corporation, points to this desire to create an all-encompassing social experience that is “more engaging, more fun, more inclusive” – as well as the timing of a huge corporate merger – to help explain the expected April launch date for Bally Bet. “If we use sports to deliver these social experiences,” Mr. Kim explains, “a sporting event becomes that virtual campfire that people congregate around and have these social experiences with each other. The ceiling [for growth] is literally endless.” Of course, a later launch will also save the company money, as it won’t have to compete with the slew of promotions that are still being pumped into the market.

And it’s proven itself to be quite the market, indeed. The combination of a record-breaking handle and a state tax rate of 51% means that New York will see $70 million in additional tax revenue – not bad for an industry that’s still in its infancy. Senator Addabbo interprets this staggering figure as evidence that New Yorkers were eager for mobile sports betting to arrive in their state. Equally anticipated by the senator are all of the community benefits that the new tax revenue will bankroll.

“The billions of dollars in revenue, educational funds, the thousands of jobs, and the awareness of addiction and the new funding for addiction programs, as well as youth sports – these are all the benefits,” said Addabbo, who spearheaded the drive to legalize online betting ever since 2019 after New York allowed in-person bets at sportsbooks.

Mobile sports betting has the potential to raise so many funds for the state, that “even if you don’t gamble, if you never place a bet, you’ll probably benefit by it,” Addabbo said.