Gaming industry experts anticipated that the New York mobile sports betting market would be massive before the state launched online sports wagering last month.
But from the first hour customers could place wagers on their mobile phones, a frigid morning exactly a week after New Year’s Day, there were strong indications that wagering activity would shatter even those high expectations. When the final numbers were tallied last week, New York handled more than $1.65 billion in sports wagers in January, the most per month by any U.S. state since the Supreme Court’s historic PASPA decision in 2018.
Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo helped broker a deal with the New York Legislature last spring that resulted in the inclusion of online sports wagering in the state’s fiscal year budget. When Cuomo resigned from the position last August, he was succeeded by Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Crowning a new single-month betting handle champ in the U.S.:
New York, which saw $1.6 billion in January.
— Sports Handle (@sports_handle) February 4, 2022
Online sports wagering in the Empire State is regulated by the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC). In November, the NYSGC approved mobile sports betting licenses for nine operators, including companies from a so-called “super bid,” featuring industry heavyweights BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Bally Bet.
“With Gov. Hochul kicking off mobile sports wagering on Jan. 8, there is no doubt there is strong interest in online sports betting in the Empire State, which has just set a national record for monthly tax revenue,” the commission said in a statement. “We look forward to a robust landscape of mobile sports wagering for years to come, one that helps to fund education in New York state as well as provide annual awards to sports programs for underserved youth and problem gambling education and treatment.”
Moving to the left lane
On the legislative side, New York state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. dealt with years of frustration as the state failed to legalize mobile sports betting before 2021. Addabbo, chair of the Senate Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee, continually used a traffic analogy to describe the state’s inability to pass what he viewed as common sense legislation on online sports wagering. As the state’s neighbors raced by in the left lane, producing millions in tax revenue, New York remained stuck on the “side of the road in neutral,” Addabbo explained.
The concerns intensified at the height of the pandemic in the spring and summer of 2020, when mobile sports wagering activity surged thanks in part to new bettors picking up a hobby while stuck at home. By last fall, when the NYSGC sifted through the arduous process of selecting the state’s mobile sports licensees, wagering activity in neighboring New Jersey continued on an upward trajectory.
New York, however, handled about well over $300 million more in January than New Jersey’s previous record high of $1.3 billion, attained in October 2021. The numbers are even more impressive when you consider that New York only operated for 24 days last month after going live on Jan. 8.
|NEW YORK||Jan. 8-30 (MOBILE ONLY)||$1,624,919,978|
|New Jersey||October 2021||$1,303,198,342|
|New Jersey||November 2021||$1,258,189,436|
|New Jersey||December 2021||$1,229,561,891|
“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,” Addabbo said in a statement. “It also can give us an indication of where we go from here, especially with the Super Bowl within our sights.”
Super Bowl figures
For months, Addabbo targeted the NFL playoffs as an ideal launch to give sportsbook operators time to have their servers up and running ahead of the Super Bowl. When the state went live before the final week of the NFL regular season, Addabbo was pleasantly surprised.
Turning to the Super Bowl, New York’s figures for the NFL’s marquee event will be the next litmus test for the market. At present, since WynnBET made its New York debut on Feb. 4, seven of the nine mobile sports betting licensees are live. Wynn gained market access in New York through a Kambi-led consortium, along with PointsBet, Caesars, and BetRivers. The two remaining operators awaiting launch are Bally Bet and Resorts World.
Super Bowl legal U.S. betting this year, as projected by @AmericanGaming:
– Handle expected to be up 78% from last year to $7.61 billion
— Sports Handle (@sports_handle) February 8, 2022
Based on New Jersey figures over the last three years, New York is expected to produce a nine-figure handle for the Super Bowl. During last year’s event, New Jersey saw handle of $117 million, a nearly four-fold increase from 2019. In between, the Garden State handled about $54 million on the Super Bowl in 2020.
The more pertinent figure, though, may be the online gross gaming revenue (GGR) generated by the sportsbooks for Sunday’s game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals. New Jersey operators generated $11.3 million from last year’s Super Bowl, after the books lost money on the game in each of the previous two years.
New York state generated online sports betting GGR of $112.9 million in the opening month, resulting in tax revenue of about $57.6 million. In January, Hochul’s office forecasted mobile sports betting tax revenue of $249 million for a limited period during Fiscal Year 2022. For Fiscal Year 2023, which runs from April 1 through March 31, New York projects tax revenue of $357 million.
Photo: Jamie Germano/USA TODAY