Only weeks after the state’s first legal brick and mortar sportsbook went live, gaming regulators in the Empire State have commissioned a NY sports betting expansion study to examine the appetite for online / mobile expansion.
At the behest of state senator Joseph Addabbo (D-15) – Chair of the Racing and Gaming and Wagering Committee and sponsor of an online / mobile sports betting bill that failed to cross the legislative finish line earlier this year – the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) has issued a request for proposal to research firms.
Whichever gaming industry analysts land the contract will be then be tasked with studying NY sports betting expansion and the statewide demand for online / mobile sports betting. As part of the NY sports betting expansion study, they will also produce estimates for the tax revenue generated by a fully mature market.
In a press release issued by his office, Addabbo pointed to the success of New Jersey online / mobile sportsbooks – where the vertical consistently represents 80 percent of the overall wagering handle – as reason enough for New York to offer competitive services:
“One of the major detractions against sports betting here in New York is that there is no appetite for it. This gaming market study proposed by the NYS Gaming Commission aims to find out exactly that. We can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch as money that could be coming to our state goes to New Jersey and surrounding states that allow mobile sports betting.”
Addabbo added: “I believe that we can simultaneously address the issues related to problematic gaming, satisfy our constitutional requirements and credibly develop a gaming industry plan that maximizes its potential.”
New York voters approved commercial casino gambling at four upstate casinos in 2013. One year later, the state Legislature allowed those venues, plus seven tribal casinos, to offer sports betting should a federal ban on the industry outside of Nevada end.
The U.S. Supreme Court repealed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 in May of last year, enabling state governments to regulate sports betting as they see fit.
After the NYSGC finalized regulations for brick and mortar betting, the Empire State’s first legal sportsbook – located within Rivers Casino Schenectady – opened to the public on July 16 of this year. That bet shop was soon joined by a FanDuel operated sportsbook within Tioga Downs Casino Resort, but if Addabbo had his way, online / mobile gaming giants like FanDuel would be permitted to accept wagers from anywhere in the state.
In June, the lawmaker successfully guided his online / mobile sports betting bill to overwhelming passage in the state Senate. Despite that apparent momentum, however, Addabbo’s bill was stalled in the General Assembly even though Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-89) had promised to deliver the votes in his chamber.
The bill’s death was due to objections from Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has asserted that the state Constitution must be amended to allow gambling expansion in defending his pledge to veto online / mobile legislation. Cuomo also told local media outlets that online / mobile wagering doesn’t offer meaningful gains in terms of tax revenue:
“Sports betting, first of all, does not make you that much money. New Jersey has sports betting, it’s on TV all the time. You can’t turn on the darn TV without seeing it. They raised something like $13 million dollars – $13 million dollars is a rounding error in our state. So I don’t even think the economic benefit is there.”
Per the latest monthly revenue report issued by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE), the Garden State’s legal sportsbooks accepted $273.2 million in wagers throughout June.
From that total, 82.7 percent ($226.7 million) of the state’s handle was generated via online / mobile sportsbook apps.
In May, during a hearing in the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, a spokesperson representing FanDuel Sportsbook revealed that approximately 25 percent of its New Jersey clientele are actually New York residents.
Addabbo’s request to initiate a NYSGC study is designed to provide hard data which can be presented to Cuomo ahead of next year’s legislative push. In his press release, Addabbo made it clear that New York cannot hope to compete with New Jersey absent online / mobile integration:
“It’s frustrating to see those numbers and realize that money – and more – could be coming to New York to help our students and citizens. Eighty percent of tax revenue generated from gaming goes directly to educational funding, which means without having legal sports betting in New York with a mobile component, our children are losing out on hundreds of millions of dollars.”