Before their near-miraculous breakthrough in April, New York legislators had been trying to broker an agreement on legal online sports betting for the better part of three years, since before the Supreme Court struck down the 1992 federal ban on sports wagering outside Nevada.
In-person sports wagering is currently legal in New York thanks to an act passed in 2013 and a regulatory framework established in 2019 for brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. But online betting has been a bumpier road that finally in 2021 became a bit smoother, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a budget agreement that included a framework to finally bring mobile sports betting to the Empire State.
The legislation, which Governor Cuomo signed on April 19, guarantees that mobile betting will come to New York at some point. It also puts the New York Gaming Commission in charge of all mobile betting operations. The first step toward mobile betting has been completed, but only after a 9-day delay. On July 9, more than a week after the July 1 deadline, the New York State Gaming Commission issued a request for applications (RFA) to “select one or more providers to offer mobile sports wagering across the state.” The July 1 date was mandated because releasing the RFA starts the application process for sports betting operators, which will be very competitive. The delay may not end up affecting the go-live date, which is still expected to be sometime before the 2022 Super Bowl, but it did not start the entire mobile betting regulatory process out on the right foot.
Stay tuned here for the latest details on which operators end up applying for a license along with updates on New York’s fitful journey toward mobile betting.
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Online and mobile sportsbook apps in New York
Under the legislation, the New York Gaming Commission (NYGC) will contract with one or more “platform providers” to run mobile betting in the state. The state itself will not be administering sports betting like in Oregon or Montana, but will certainly receive a large share of the generated revenue. Reports indicate that the NYGC will try to lock in a revenue-sharing agreement that will ship 50-55% of the sportsbooks’ gross gaming revenue (GGR) straight to the state’s coffers. This would certainly be beneficial for New Yorkers, but 45% of the potential New York mobile betting market is still far more than the handle of most states. Large operators like DraftKings and FanDuel will not shy away from this seemingly unfavorable arrangement.
While we can’t say with certainty which online sportsbooks will apply for and gain New York sports betting licenses, many of them are already set up with casino or racetrack partners in the state, and have agreed to partner for online betting when it becomes permitted.
There are four casino locations in NY already offering in-person sports betting, and the companies running them are predicted by many industry observers to offer mobile betting in the state at some point. This is because a minimum of two platform providers will be selected based on a competitive bidding process, which could result in multiple providers. Their established presence in the state and ties to the local Upstate communities will definitely help their chances.
Potential platform providers
Coming to New York is going to cost potential operators quite a bit of money, starting with the $25 million license fee paid to the state upon application approval. Operators will be submitting applications through the RFA process that will detail how much they are willing to fork over to the state. The cut will start at 50/50 and go down (or up, depending on your point of view) from there. Most observers expect the state to gain a 51/49 split. Add the additional expense of housing servers in the state to process all transactions (or paying another company to process the transactions) and you all but all but eliminate smaller sportsbooks from even applying.
Here are the companies that are expected to submit bids to be platform providers:
As part of the legislation, two or more providers will be selected and four or more operators will eventually go live in the state. In an interesting twist, providers are allowed to partner with up to two smaller operators, bringing them in as online skins. This will result in a more competitive market than other states with just one mobile operator (New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana, Washington DC). This is a much better outcome for bettors than the Cuomo-preferred lottery-run monopoly that was speculated to emerge from the budget negotiations earlier this year.
Additional potential operators:
|Online Sportsbook Brand||Land-Based Partner||Online / Mobile Launch||Retail Launch||Location|
|Bet365||Resorts World Catskills||TBA||September 5th, 2019||Monticello
|BetRivers||Rivers Casino Schenectady||TBA||July 16th, 2019||Schenectady|
|DraftKings||Del Lago Resort & Casino||TBA||August 23rd, 2019||Waterloo
|FanDuel||Tioga Downs||TBA||July 19th, 2019||Nichols|
|William Hill||Turning Stone Resort Casino||TBA||August 1st, 2019||Verona|
There are several brands offering online sports betting in neighboring states (PA, NJ) that haven’t yet forged agreements with NY casinos, but may in the future. They include:
These sportsbooks could either go for it and apply to be a platform provider or cut a deal with one of the bigger operators and come in as an online skin. The details remain murky on what sort of requirements would be included in partnering with a platform provider, but any sportsbook would jump through numerous regulatory hurdles to gain access to the lucrative New York market.
How many online sportsbooks in NY?
A minimum of four and a maximum of unlimited. Sorry we can’t narrow it down any further, but we just don’t have enough information at this point to determine which operators will end up in the state. We do know that two operators will definitely be selected based on their platform provider applications and a minimum of four total operators will end up in the state.
There are a lot of watchful eyes here, as the New York gambling market has a lot of interested parties hoping to make some money off of the move to online betting, including the state itself. The state will be the big winner when mobile betting goes live due to the generous GGR cut it is expected to receive, but operators and residents will benefit as well from the increased competition in one of the biggest markets in the country.
One additional factor to consider: whichever sportsbooks do end up going live online in the state may not post the most favorable prices due to their significant operating expenses. They are going to have to generate a lot of revenue to make operating in New York worth while, so a -110 line in NJ or PA might get slightly bumped up to -112 or -113 in NY. Competition will help keep the lines competitive, but it would not be surprising to see less value for the bettor in NY compared to other states. Something to keep an eye on as things get rolling.
Land-based sportsbooks in New York
New York had been poised for legal sports betting in one way or another since 2013’s New York Gaming Economic Development Act, which was implemented by constitutional amendment establishing a potential framework that contemplated sports wagering becoming permitted if federal law changed. Which it did: In 2018, the US Supreme Court overturned the federal law prohibiting sports wagering in states outside Nevada (PASPA), and the wheels were set in motion for New York sports betting, and legal wagers in whichever states moved forward with legalization and/or a framework for them.
By summer 2019, the New York State Gaming Commission approved a set of rules for four retail (also referred to as “commercial”) casinos to offer sports betting in-person at upstate locations. Neither the words “mobile” nor “online” were included in these provisions, however.
A month after above’s Part 5239 was added to the NY Code, Rivers Casino opened its first physical sportsbook in Schenectady, and sports wagering in the Empire State began in earnest, with legal betting allowed at the following locations:
- Del Lago Resort & Casino in Seneca County (DraftKings Inc.)
- Resorts World Catskills in Sullivan County (Bet365)
- Rivers Casino in Schenectady County (Rush Street Interactive and Kambi Group plc)
- Tioga Downs in Tioga County (Betfair US/FanDuel Sportsbook)
In 2019, a sportsbook opened at the Turning Stone Resort Casino and the Point Place Casino, tribal properties that have partnered with Caesars Sports to offer their services. This could result in Caesars applying for a platform provider license, particularly because the NYGC may look favorably on applicants that are aligned with tribes in the state.
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More background on the NY online betting discussions
Assembly Member J. Gary Pretlow and State Senator Joseph Addabbo have consistently been the chief proponents of an open, mobile sports betting market in the NY legislature. Since the legalization of betting on a federal level in 2018, the two have been making the case for online sports betting as a major boon to the New York economy, citing the success of neighboring states’ betting markets with open competition, and New Jersey actually siphoning dollars from New Yorkers seeking legal betting platforms; FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands is only eight miles from New York City, and rest stops just over the border where patrons can access sportsbooks online within New Jersey.
Cuomo’s 2022 budget for New York included proposed revenue from mobile sports betting, a clear indicator that the Governor planned to move forward with some form of online wagering. Again, however, Cuomo was not convinced by Pretlow and Addabbo’s claims that an open, competitive market leads to higher revenues, and argued that the state-run, lottery-managed model as proposed in his 2022 budget was the best “for the people”.
Budget Director Robert Mujica agreed, estimating the state-run model would bring in ten times the revenue that an open competition model would. Such is politics, with research firms, budget committees, and politicians themselves giving out vastly contradictory figures. As for the numbers, they paint a different picture– that revenues from the lottery-driven model fall short of those from competitive, multi-brand markets.
In the end, a compromise emerged and both sides claimed to be satisfied with the result. The state gets a healthy revenue share and multiple operators will end up coming to the state. It’s not the total state-run monopoly that Governor Cuomo wanted, but it’s not the fully competitive market that Pretlow and Addabbo pushed for either. Such is the way things usually go in state politics.
Across the Hudson, NJ online betting rakes in cash
There is a competitive online sports betting market on the other side of the Lincoln Tunnel and George Washington Bridge leading to New Jersey, and the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has NY lawmakers feeling the economic drain. In December 2020, betting providers in New Jersey took in $66.4 million, generating over $7 million tax revenue for the state in the month alone: compare that to a paltry $2.3M monthwide take from New York, and it becomes a bit clearer why Addabbo and Pretlow would push for an open market.
The research supporting an open market is readily available, but Cuomo was never fully convinced. VIXIO GamblingCompliance, a regulatory expert in the betting industry, projects that New York online sports betting could rake in a record-breaking $700 million in revenue, more than tripling Nevada’s massive $252 million take for 2017. You’d think these numbers would be enticing, as New York expects to lose $61 billion in overall revenue in the coming four years as a direct result of COVID-19, but the state ended up avoiding the open, competitive model advocated for by Addabbo and Pretlow.
Tribal agreements and sports betting
The relationship between the U.S. government and the Native American tribes that preceded it is fraught with complexity, and gambling is a core component of that relationship. To put it simply, federal law written in the 1980’s indicates that tribes can enter into a compact with state governments to offer gambling, but they’re mostly operating of their own volition.
An example of this occurred between the Oneida Indian Nation in NY and Caesars Entertainment, wherein the two entered a partnership to offer sports betting kiosks at three Oneida casino locations. There was no specific language or provision in the aforementioned constitutional amendment allowing for tribal casinos, but due to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, there doesn’t have to be. Tribes in some cases may have revenue sharing arrangements with the state, but cannot be subject to taxes. In any case, they can move forward with sports betting if it’s been made available to commercial properties (see above) without needing specific approval from the state.
When online sports betting finally does eventually go live in New York, funding and withdrawing money from your online sports betting account is typically pretty straightforward. You’ll have access to a variety of payment methods, likely including:
- PayPal: When available, you can make deposits and withdrawals with the most popular online wallet in the world, PayPal.
- ACH/eCheck (VIP Preferred): VIP Preferred is a third-party online check processor and online wallet, and is a secure way to make payments or receive withdrawals from your checking account to/from an online sports betting account.
- Play+ Card: The Play+ card is a prepaid card service offered by many online sportsbooks, and works like a regular debit card at most merchants. This is often the best way to use online wallets with your preferred sportsbook if no other options are available.
- Skrill: Skrill is similar to PayPal and is a third-party online wallet and payment processor. Initially popular in the UK, Skrill often partners with online casinos and sports betting platforms in the US.
- PayNearMe: The following options are in-person options. PayNearMe is a service sometimes offered at local merchants, which enables users to visit locations like 7-Eleven, CVS, and more to make deposits/withdrawals to/from your account.
- Cash at Cage: If your preferred online sportsbook is partnered with a casino location (which it should be if it’s legitimate), you will be able to visit that casino and do your banking in person.
Whenever you’re banking with a real-money online sportsbook, take a look at the terms and conditions. In many cases, you’ll be limited to certain withdrawal methods based on the deposit method you used previously, in addition to terms about bank transfers and other nuggets of useful, necessary info.
Frequently asked questions
Is sports betting legal in the state of New York?
Yes, in-person sports betting is legal in New York. Online sports betting is in the works for the state, but isn’t yet available.
Who can place a real-money sports bet in New York?
Real-money sports betting is limited to users who are 21+ and physically located in the state of New York. If you’d like to access your account and use other features while not in New York, you’ll have access to those through mobile wagering apps, but you will only be allowed to place a real-money sports wager when you are in the state.
How many online sportsbooks will be available in New York?
There will be a minimum of four online sportsbooks available in New York. There could be several more depending on how the regulatory process shakes out, but the recently approved legislation that legalized mobile sports betting clearly states that a minimum of four online sportsbooks will be approved by state regulators.
Will mobile sportsbooks offer bonuses for new players?
Probably. Mobile sportsbooks will likely offer new customer promotions, including deposit match bonuses and “risk-free” bets to entice new users to join with the service.
How will I deposit/withdraw online?
Depositing online will require you to share some personal information with a potential provider at signup, including SSN and other identifying information. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to make a deposit with a number of banking services, detailed above in the “Banking options” section.
What bet types and betting markets will be available?
Regardless of which model gets implemented, the basics should become available: point spreads, moneyline, props for all major pro sports leagues and NCAA collegiate sports events. But the more sportsbooks to hit the market, the wider the options will be.