Bally Bet Faces An Uphill Battle For New York Market Share

The company has plans to differentiate itself, but market conditions could prove challenging
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New York has proven every bit the sports betting behemoth most people expected the state to be.

In the nearly six months since legalized mobile sports betting arrived, New Yorkers have placed more than $8.64 billion in bets, according to the latest gaming commission numbers, turning the Empire State into the sports betting capital of the country. What online sportsbook wouldn’t want access to a market that ripe for the picking?

Bally Bet became the ninth and final licensed operator to launch in the state when it quietly launched mobile operations in New York on Thursday. Bally Bet’s launch was long shrouded in mystery, as the operator initially pushed back its launch to April, then bumped it again before finally going live in July well after the market had begun to sort itself out.

Live and tweeting

Bally Bet didn’t exactly drum up the publicity machine for Thursday’s launch, simply tweeting about its arrival after it had already begun taking bets. In its Twitter profile, the company notes that it is live “only” in Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, and Virginia, with no mention of New York.

It almost seems as if Bally’s is entering the massive New York market sheepishly, almost hesitantly, and a deeper dive into the numbers reveals a possible motive for the quiet launch. As massive as the New York sports betting appetite is, smaller operators have had a hard time avoiding getting gobbled up by the big fish.

As of the week ending July 3, FanDuel, DraftKings, and Caesars have grossed a collective $545.8 million in revenue in New York, good for 89.9% of the $607.2 million in total gross gaming revenue (GGR) for all nine operators. That means that the other five operators — WynnBET, BetMGM, BetRivers, PointsBet, and Resorts World — have divided up $61.4 million in GGR among them from six months of bookmaking.

After New York takes its 51% tax cut, that leaves $30 million between the five to cover six months of promotion and operations. That’s the climate Bally Bet enters, trying to differentiate itself in a market that has proven challenging for those toward the bottom of the standings.

What niche will Bally Bet fill?

Deciphering Bally’s strategy in New York is a challenge, in part because the operator has said it plans to focus on viewer interaction, parlaying the company’s ownership of 21 regional sports networks to create a more integrated watch-and-bet experience. The problem is none of those 21 networks is located in New York. In fact, the closest is Bally Sports Ohio.

Bally’s does own 20% of the Yankee Entertainment and Sports (YES) network, but the Yankees ultimately decide what airs on their network. One long-range possibility for Bally’s is to specialize in unusual in-game plays such as the exit velocity of an Aaron Judge home run or the next player to hit a 3-pointer for the Brooklyn Nets, possibilities Bally’s Chairman Soo Kim mentioned to SportsHandle’s Jill Dorson in an interview last fall.

Bally’s has also mentioned the possibility of rolling out an especially sleek product for its New York app by completing a redesign of other state sites.

The operator appears to have picked this week to launch because of a four-game weekend series between the Yankees and Boston Red Sox, the renewal of baseball’s most intense and mainstream rivalry. But it’s still puzzling timing, considering Bally’s missed the NFL playoffs and March Madness and has waited to launch until a time of declining wagering in New York.

New York sports betting is in a summer lull. The $212.8 million in handle for the week ending July 3 was the lowest since launch, and the past four weeks have been the four lowest-volume weeks since regulated sports wagering began in New York.

Photo: Shutterstock

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