Before their near-miraculous breakthrough in April 2021, 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, with Super Bowl 2022 the current target. It also put the New York Gaming Commission in charge of all mobile betting operations. The first steps toward mobile betting have now been completed. On July 9, 2021, 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 proved competitive.
On November 8, 2021, the NYGC met and recommended nine online bookmakers for mobile licenses in the state. The NY online sports betting puzzle is becoming more complete with each passing week. Stay tuned here for the latest details as we get closer to market launch.
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Online and mobile sportsbook apps in New York
The New York Gaming Commission (NYGC) was required to award licenses to at least two “platform providers”, and four online sportsbooks to run mobile betting in the state. They ended up deciding to license nine books. 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. The NYGC announced in October ’21 that the state would tax its operators at a rate of 51% of the sportsbooks’ gross gaming revenue (GGR) – that’s a lot of money straight to the state’s coffers. This tax rate is the highest in the U.S. market, and will be beneficial for New Yorkers overall, but it will make it more difficult for online sportsbooks to turn a profit in the state. Large operators will not shy away from this seemingly unfavorable arrangement.
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. Potential operators also submitted applications through the RFA process that actually detailed how much they were willing to fork over to the state. The Kambi-backed group came in at a whopping 64% – quite a bit higher than the final 51% number. Add the additional expense of housing servers in the state to process all transactions (or paying another company to process the transactions), and smaller books were all but eliminated from applying.
There are several casino locations in NY already offering in-person sports betting, and the companies running them were predicted by many industry observers to offer mobile betting in the state at some point. Their established presence in the state and ties to the local Upstate communities were assumed to be an asset during the application process. This proved true for some, but not all.
Confirmed NY online sportsbooks
After a lengthy vetting process, the New York Gaming Commission met and officially issued operator licenses to nine different online sportsbooks on November 8, 2021. Included among them were most of the industry’s largest players:
|Online Sportsbook||NY License Approval||Launch Date|
|Bally Bet||Yes||Early 2022 (est.)|
|BetMGM||Yes||Early 2022 (est.)|
|BetRivers (RSI)||Yes||Early 2022 (est.)|
|Caesars Sportsbook||Yes||Early 2022 (est.)|
|DraftKings Sportsbook||Yes||Early 2022 (est.)|
|FanDuel Sportsbook||Yes||Early 2022 (est.)|
|PointsBet||Yes||Early 2022 (est.)|
|Resorts World||Yes||Early 2022 (est.)|
|WynnBET||Yes||Early 2022 (est.)|
As part of the legislation process two or more providers were required to be selected with at least four books hitting the market between them. In an interesting twist, providers were allowed to partner up and submit bids together. FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and Bally Bet joined forces to submit a ‘Super Bid’ that was too good for the NYGC to turn down. Likewise, betting tech provider Kambi headed up a joint bid from Rush Street Interactive (BetRivers / SugarHouse), Caesars, Wynn, Genting (Resorts World), and PointsBet.
The end result here is a more competitive market than other states with just one mobile operator (think 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 in early 2021.
Sportsbooks left out of New York
The list of approved NY online sportsbooks includes most of the heavy hitters, but there are a few brands that came up short in their bid to enter the Empire State. Notably, Barstool Sportsbook, Bet365, theScore Bet and FOX Bet all would have been hoping for a different results. Additionally, Fanatics, the immensely popular sports retailer has been looking to enter the betting space but was shut out. Each company had submitted applications but were not selected by the NYGC, and won’t be accepting bets in the state anytime soon. Barstool in particular will be disappointed in the results, as their company headquarters is in New York City. Similarly, Bet365 had been associated with Resorts World Catskills but the partnership didn’t help pave the way for the popular British brand.
NY sportsbook pricing
The viability of an online sportsbook can come down to its pricing. If the odds offered aren’t favorable, the books won’t get action. Ultimately the state of New York will be the big winner when mobile betting goes live due to the generous GGR cut it is set to receive (51%). Since the taxes are so high, NY online sportsbooks may not be able to offer the best prices. If it’s harder to turn a profit, sportsbooks will need to manufacture more revenue to stay afloat, meaning they’ll need to win more often. So where a -110 line might be available across the border in New Jersey, New York bettors might have to settle for -115 or -120.
What could offset the significant tax issue is the fact that New York will have plenty of online sportsbooks to choose from. The more competition there is, the better. If one sportsbook offers a superior price on a particular market, others will need to match it or risk losing action, driving prices down. Ultimately we’ll reserve judgement and remain cautiously optimistic that NY online bookmakers will find ways to keep pricing competitive with other states.
Official league data in New York
Official league data is essentially a way for sports leagues to gain a financial stake in sports betting. If used, NY online sportsbooks would be paying sports organizations, like MLB for example, for the right to use their official data and statistics to determine the results of their wagers. While finalizing it’s laws the state of New York waffled on the use of ‘official league data’. In the end official league data is required, however, they added a provision that sportsbooks can utilize a different source for data, provided it has been vetted by the NYGC. This is the direction we expect most, if not all of the online sportsbooks that launch in New York to go.
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 Sportsbook to offer their services.
|Retail Sportsbook||Location||Retail Launch|
|Del Lago Resort & Casino||Waterloo||August 23rd, 2019|
|Resorts World Catskills||Monticello||September 5th, 2019|
|Rivers Casino Schenectady||Schenectady||July 16th, 2019|
|Tioga Downs||Nichols||July 19th, 2019|
|Turning Stone Resort Casino||Verona||August 1st, 2019|
|Empire City Casino||Yonkers||TBA|
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More background on the NY online betting discussions
Assembly Member J. Gary Pretlow and State Senator Joseph Addabbo had 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 there are plenty of rest stops and gas stations 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 in 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 years as a direct result of COVID-19.
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 to your account.
- Cash at Cage: If your preferred online sportsbook is partnered with a casino location, 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. The state is currently hoping to launch online sports betting by the Super Bowl in February of 2022.
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 isn’t technically a cap on the number of online books in New York, but the NYGC has only licensed nine operators to enter the state. Check out the table above for a complete list.
Will mobile sportsbooks offer bonuses for new players?
Yes they will. Mobile sportsbooks will likely offer new customer promotions, including free bets, 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?
All major bet types will be on the table. Point spreads, moneyline, futures, totals (over/under), and props for all major pro sports leagues and NCAA collegiate sports events.