Yet another version of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s vision for mobile sports betting in New York has emerged – but it leaves most of the pending roadblocks in place.
After first raising the idea last week of reversing his longstanding opposition to online sports betting, Cuomo later the same day pivoted to a a state Lottery-run sports betting plan – seemingly a non-starter for state Constitutional reasons.
Within an hour or so, Cuomo’s staff put out a statement clarifying that “the New York State Gaming Commission will issue a request for proposals to select and license a sports operator or platform to offer mobile sports wagering in New York.”
But as Cuomo wrapped up his fourth and final day of State of the State speeches in Albany on Thursday, a slightly modified version arose in a press release that listed a broad spectrum of Cuomo’s proposals:
‘Or more’ takes the stage
“Under Governor Cuomo’s proposal, the New York State Gaming Commission will issue a request for proposals to select one or more providers to offer mobile sports wagering in New York.”
That opens the door for more than just an automatic monopoly on mobile sports betting in a state home to nearly 20 million and the financial capital of the world, New York City, but the field would still be limited to no more than a maximum of four players in an ever-expanding industry:
“This platform must have a partnership with at least one of the existing licensed commercial casinos.”
That keeps these operators in the game:
- FanDuel, which is a partner with Meadowlands Racetrack operator Jeff Gural at Tioga Downs in Nichols;
- DraftKings, which runs the sports betting at del Lago casino in Waterloo;
- Rush Street Gaming, which owns Rivers Casino in Schenectady and offers BetRivers Sportsbook online in other states including Pennsylvania and Illinois;
- Bet365, the operator of sports betting for Resorts World Catskills in Thompson.
But the reiteration of the “partnership with at least one of the existing licensed commercial casinos” does not seem to bode well for MGM Resorts International and its online arm BetMGM, in which it has invested heavily.
Bad bet by MGM?
That’s because while MGM bought Yonkers Raceway for $850 million in 2019, the site is a “racino” with thousands of slot machines but no live-dealer table games or sports betting like the commercial casinos have.
MGM’s purchase clearly was aimed at obtaining one of the three casino licenses in the New York City region that will be in play beginning in 2023. But missing out on even a chance to bid for a lucrative mobile sports betting license – when more than 90% of New Jersey’s sports betting revenue comes via that route – would be a real blow.
Cuomo’s mobile sports betting steps have been a mixed bag for longtime advocates Gary Pretlow in the state Assembly and Joseph Addabbo Jr. in the state Senate.
The change of stance is welcomed, but each proposal comes with complications – not the least of which are what this means for tribal casinos in the state and for the New York Racing Association, which wants a seat at this table.
So instead, Pretlow and Addabbo have filed joint legislation allowing for up to 14 sports betting apps in New York – a long way from Cuomo’s idea.
In Cuomo’s latest iteration, he noted that “An industry study found that nearly 20 percent of New Jersey’s sports wagering revenue comes from New York residents, costing the State millions of dollars in lost tax revenue.”
The difference in sports betting revenue between New York and New Jersey – which has less than half the population – is staggering. Last month, Garden State operators pocketed $66.4 million while their New York counterparts settled for just $2.3 million.
Most of that revenue came from Rivers ($949,800) and del Lago ($922,700), with Tioga Downs ($277,300) and Resorts World Catskills ($108,900) finishing well up the track.
Per Cuomo’s latest edict, the Commission will also require any entity operating mobile wagering apps include safeguards against abuses and addiction.