Governor Cuomo Still Inching His Way Towards Mobile Sports Betting
New York is facing a $6 billion budget deficit. Despite this, Governor Andrew Cuomo didn’t find it necessary to include revenue from mobile sports betting in his executive budget for the 2021 fiscal year. Not only has Cuomo not been supportive of online betting in New York, he even went as far as calling it “irresponsible” in his address. “This is not the time to come up with creative although irresponsible revenue sources to solve a problem which doesn’t really exist.”
While Cuomo is continuing to ignore the major need for New York in legalizing mobile betting, he has included a small sports betting expansion in his budget proposal. Currently, sports betting is only allowed at authorized casinos in their designated sports lounge areas: Rivers Resort & Casino Schenectady; Tioga Downs; Resorts World Catskills; and del Lago Casino & Resort. Betting in sports lounges is also authorized in full-service casinos operated by the Akwesasne Mohawk, Oneida, and Seneca nations. Cuomo’s budget proposal included sports betting outside of casino sports lounges but still on casino property. Basically, people would be allowed to bet anywhere on casino grounds instead of just inside the sports lounge. Not that much of an expansion.
State Senator Joseph Addabbo has been the biggest advocate of legalizing mobile sports betting in New York. Addabbo has proposed numerous sports betting bills over the years. Despite his efforts, Cuomo is still refusing to budge and give his support for mobile betting. Addabbo has repeatedly referenced that a significant percentage of New Jersey’s sports betting revenue is coming from New York residents traveling the shorter distance to New Jersey to bet rather than traveling a longer distance to New York’s upstate casinos.
“Mobile sports betting is benefiting New Jersey — with approximately 25% of the state’s mobile wagering business coming from New York residents — and it could provide the same positive results for New York,” said Addabbo earlier this month. According to the consultant firm Eiler & Krejcik, New York is realizing just 5% of its potential.
“We have until March to convince the governor that mobile sports gambling should be in our state,” said Addabbo. “We can introduce a separate bill, but it’s much more likely if it goes in the budget.”
The metaphorical clock does appear to be ticking with state’s like neighboring New Jersey well ahead of the curve when it comes to offering online sports betting. New Jersey has seen a windfall of bettors crossing state lines from New York to place bets. Pennsylvania mobile sports betting is live and the state has benefited with impressive revenue numbers. We’ve seen great success in the NJ sports betting market with Fanduel Sportsbook & DraftKings Sportsbook leading the way. Once NY opens it’s statewide sports betting doors, we expect more of the same.
New York Sports Betting FAQs
What types of sporting events can I wager on in Upstate New York?
All sporting events are available in the physical sportsbooks except events that include in state college teams.
Will online sports betting be available across the state of New York?
As of right now, it is too soon to tell. It seems as if Governor Cuomo is the last barrier before statewide sports betting is legal. It has been well documented that New York is losing state revenue from the sports bettors crossing state lines into New Jersey to place bets.
Who is allowed to place sports wagers online in Upstate New York?
You must be 21 years old and must also be physically located at the sportsbook/casino.
When will I be able to place wagers on sports in New York City?
No one knows. The hope is that Cuomo will allow legislation to proceed in 2020.
New York Sports Betting Precedent
New York does have precedent in place that would allow for sports betting expansion in the Empire State. In 2013, a voter referendum was overwhelmingly passed that allowed for the four casinos in the state to offer sports betting. At that point in time, the only other existing barrier for New York to offer sports betting was the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA). PASPA was struck down by a Supreme Court ruling in May 2018 leaving the door wide-open for legal sports betting in the US and for New York to move forward with offering sports betting statewide. However, Cuomo has been adamant about limiting sports betting to the Upstate casinos.
Sports betting is gaining momentum across the United States. Since the May 2018 US Supreme Court ruling, state legislators have started to push to open up state-regulated sportsbooks. New Jersey was the first with full scale statewide mobile apps. Pennsylvania sports betting followed shortly thereafter and has established a healthy online betting market. New York hasn’t been able to get their own online betting legislation pushed across the finish line, yet. Here’s a little discussion about where that push is currently, and when the lawmakers do finally approve state-regulated sport betting, who will be the most-logical candidates for physical and online sportsbooks in the Empire State.
Sports Betting Legislative Over the Past 12 Months
Those who are against sports betting are probably never going to be convinced it has any positive merits. However, New York lawmakers have a bold example of the huge financial benefits. This evidence is sitting right across the state line in New Jersey.
Soon, there will be even more impetus to look long and hard at finally passing legislation to legalize statewide sportsbooks. Pennsylvania legislators have added the Commonwealth to the list of legal sports betting states. Revenue is flowing in from online operations.
While progress has been slow in New York, there has been progress. Online betting and mobile apps are available in a radius around the upstate casinos. One of the highly-motivating factors is the fact that potential cash revenue from license fees and taxes, an inherent part of sports gambling, are walking across the state line to neighboring states. The bean-counters in New York don’t formulate their spreadsheets based on any moral compass. These accountant-types lay down calculated figures. Those figures speak volumes.
Even conservative estimates have New York’s revenue intake from legal sports betting to be potentially in the billions. Naysayers point to the revenue reports for current casino facilities being lower than expected. However, gambling experts understand that these are from a three-year growing period, and online sports betting sites and apps are the key to causing a dramatic rise in revenue. With this in mind, when will the New York lawmakers join the online party?
Current Locations for Physical New York Sportsbooks
There are a handful of commercial casinos in the state of New York that will also push for a physical sportsbook. New York is currently moving into the fourth year of legal casinos. Many of the commercial and tribal operations have underperformed expectations. Here are the top contenders to open their doors to sports bettors.
Resorts World CatSkills
Resorts World is the largest major commercial casinos currently operating in New York. They already have a full-slate of table games and slots. Resorts World CatSkills hasn’t quite hit the projected target revenue expected, but it is further along than most. The size, location, and reputation make it highly-probable to become a licensed sportsbook facility.
Address: 888 Resorts World Dr, Monticello, NY 12701
Resorts World New York City
While not as large as the CatSkills operation, Resorts World in New York City has prime location on its side. Being in the heart of a city home to multiple professional sports franchises gives this casino a clear advantage when sportsbook locations are being handed out.
Address: 110-00 Rockaway Blvd, Jamaica, NY 11420
Del Lago Resort and Casino
This is the second largest of the non-tribal casinos. While revenue from strictly casino operations was off as well, traffic through Del Lago was high. Del Lago has dozens of alluring attractions. Fine dining and exquisite accommodations make it a clear favorite to land a sportsbook. They already have a lounge in place, clearly anticipating a license when they are awarded.
Address: 1133 NY-414, Waterloo, NY 13165
Tioga Downs and Casino
When you’re already accepting racetrack bets, you have the experience the state gaming commission may be looking for when awarding sportsbook locations. Tioga Downs and Casino most certainly has that. They are the third of the big-three commercial casinos currently in operation. Name and recognition give it an advantage in the race to land New York’s physical sportsbook locations.
Address: 2384 W River Rd, Nichols, NY 13812
Turning Stone Resort and Casino
This is the first of the possible tribal casinos that may lead the way in adding physical sportsbooks in New York. The number of possible casinos attached to Native American tribes is short because of a lukewarm interest towards sports betting thus far by tribal casinos across the nation.
The Oneida Nation is one of those tribal groups showing an interest. This may be the first tribal casino to open up a sportsbook, since they already have a lounge that prove perfect for taking sports bets.
Address: 5218 Patrick Rd, Verona, NY 13478
Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino
There are six physical casino locations of importance that are operated by the Seneca Nation. The Seneca Nation is the second tribal casino operation voicing an interest in sports betting. Buffalo Creek has the advantage of being proximal to a professional sports franchise, plus a large metropolitan population.
The Niagara Falls location is another prominent facility, and would logically be an excellent venue to house a physical sportsbook. The three Seneca Game and Entertainment locations are also current casino locations that would prove viable spots to easily add sports betting.
Address: 1 Fulton St, Buffalo, NY 14204
Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway
The final current casino with sportsbook appeal may be the most interesting. With horse racing already on the books, the Empire City Casino has one iron in the fire so to speak. The facility is located at the corner of Central Park Avenue and Yonkers Avenue, another perk.
Now, add to that the fact MGM Resorts International owns it and you have the kicker. MGM has been and will continue to be a huge player in the US sports betting movement.
Address: 810 Yonkers Ave, Yonkers, NY 10704
Which Online Sportsbooks Have the Biggest Advantage in New York?
Once the gaming commission navigates its way through the regulatory process, an online sports betting option should almost immediately follow. Too many people use mobile devices to do dozens of everyday things.
Not quickly opening up to online sportsbooks after legalizing sports betting would be illogical. Here are the current online sportsbook operators that have a solid chance of being legal in New York.
• playMGM Sportsbook app – MGM may be the frontrunner for one of the first physical locations. It’s almost a foregone conclusion that they will lobby to include their playMGM Sportsbook app in the package. They carry a healthy reputation in the casino industry already, so they are essentially a sure-bet to be offered online sportsbook freedom.
• FanDuel – FanDuel has surprised a lot of people in New Jersey. No one doubted the daily fantasy sports service would be successful, but their performance has far exceeded expectations. In fact, FanDuel’s sportsbook actually took over the lead in total sports betting revenue in New Jersey, three out of the first months of 2019.
• DraftKings – DraftKings was one of the first, and has proven to be one of the most-successful online options in New Jersey. There is a clear track record of performance to follow. DK has been a viable contender in every state thus far who has passed sports betting legislation. New York will be no different.
• BetAmerica – BetAmerica already has a solid position in New York state greyhound and horse race betting. They rate second in total transactions. What makes them different from others is that BetAmerica already has a sportsbook app in New Jersey. The shift across to New York would be not only very simple, but logical.
• William Hill – William Hill has the funds and the partnerships to make a New York entry possible.
What Are New York Sports Bettors Doing Now?
Today, anyone close to the New Jersey state line is simply crossing into the Garden State and betting on any number of a hundred sports odds. The Meadowlands has one of the largest and most profitable sportsbook locations in New Jersey.
There is no doubt; a healthy portion of the profits comes from New Yorkers. This may be the strongest factor that pushes legislators who may be on the fence about legalizing sports betting in New York. Pennsylvania is a foregone conclusion, currently in the final stages of opening their own sportsbook operations.
The longer New York waits, the more money they’ll lose. While rarely mentioned in today’s news, there certainly are under-the-table methods for betting inside the New York state line. Legal sports betting would take the money away from illegal sports betting and put into the state’s treasury.
Logically, New Jersey officials accept the fact that New York is invariably going to allow sports betting. Until then, they realize they should take full advantage of sharing a common border. New Jersey legislators want to be neighborly and all.
However, they also appreciate that the revenue numbers, especially for sportsbooks close to the border, will drop dramatically as soon as sports bettors don’t have to cross over into New Jersey to bet legally.
Future Of Sports Betting In New York
New York legislators stalled in the pursuit to authorize sports betting after the PASPA ruling when it adjourned its 2018 session in June without introducing any further legislation, proposals, or laws. The New York State Gaming Commission has already been working on rules and licensing protocol based on the 2013 voter referendum. However, there is no current proposed timeline or concrete expectation of when the gaming commission will have everything in place to offer sports betting at the state’s four casinos. There are rumors and speculation that the gaming commission has not made large strides due to the state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, preferring to wait until after his re-election campaign has been completed which could delay sports betting until after the new year and into 2019.
Technically, it is actually legal to place a bet at any of the New York casino facilities. Again, we stress technically speaking. First of all, the casino must have a sportsbook, and to have a legal sportsbook they must have a state license. That’s where the catch is currently.
So, what does this look like in the immediate future? Even though lawmakers failed to come to a cumulative consensus to open up full sportsbook operations, the four major commercial casinos can legally take sports bets.
Although the momentum for full state-regulated sports betting stalled briefly, no one thinks it will be derailed. Now, most New York residents are just playing the waiting game. There is too much revenue on the table for it not to happen.
New York shares a border two states that either have or will soon allow legal sports betting. The longer they wait; the only consequence will be to watch revenue walk across the state line.
The gaming commission is developing a list of regulations, and the option will be open to public comment for a minimum of 45 days. After that, revisions will be made to the first draft. While it may still take a few months and some convincing to get New York sports betting across the finish line, look for it to happen sooner than later.
Potential Issues In Offering Online Sports Betting
New York legislators may have to conduct a cost-reward examination to see if online sports betting is worth the potential monetary loss from the Oneida Indian Nation. How does the Oneida Indian Nation play into the online sports betting equation? Well, they currently have the exclusive rights to offer casino gambling in the 10-county region of upstate New York. So if someone places a wager from their home, business, sports bar, or anywhere else physically located in that area, then it could be argued that those wagers not made with an Oneida-affiliated casino would infringe on those exclusive rights.
But just how much does the Oneida Nation pay to the state for those exclusive rights? Over the last five years, those exclusive rights have equated to more than $200 million to the state based on the 25% of revenues paid from their slot machines. Current estimations for sports gambling revenue in New York are forecasted at anywhere from $10-30 million a year. Even if the revenue from sports betting does reach the upper echelon of that estimation, it would still fall short of the annual $40 million average from the Oneida Nation exclusive rights deal. However, this estimation is only based on in-person sports betting and does include the potential revenue from online wagers. Online wagering could easily increase the total revenue from sports betting to more than $500 million based on some projections. There are also some lofty projections could see New York generating anywhere from $170 million to $591 million in the total fiscal impact that includes up to 12,000 jobs created. This could go a long way in the risk-reward analysis that takes into account more than just generate revenue.
Precedent For Indian Nation Disagreements With The State
There is precedent already in place if the Oneida Nation does believe the online sports betting infringes on their exclusive rights within the state. The Seneca Nation of Indians withheld more than $100 million worth of payments when they argued that there was an infringement on their gaming compact rights. This could become even more heightened and contentious because the Oneida Nation has already publicly declared their intention on also offering sports betting in their casinos if other casinos in the state also move forward with offering sports betting.
Where Is Sports Betting Be Offered In New York?
Sports betting is allowed in the state’s four privately run and full-scale casinos. You also see Indian Nation casinos offering sports betting. These privately-run casinos are:
- Tioga Downs—located in Nichols
- Del Lago Resort & Casino—located in Waterloo
- Rivers Casino & Resort—located in Schenectady
- Resorts World Catskills—located in Monticello
History of New York Legislative Efforts
With neighboring New Jersey and Pennsylvania having dramatically expanded legalized gambling in the past year, New York has every incentive to do the same, lest its gambling revenues be seized by other states. Nevertheless, New York has struggled to pass legislation that will legalize online gambling statewide.
The New York narrowly missed approving online gambling in 2017 before taking the issue up again this year. The New York State Senate passed a bill to legalize online poker last year and the year before, but the bill failed to clear the New York Assembly. The lower house does not have the support for online gambling that is currently found in the upper chamber. The Senate had passed the bill with overwhelming support in previous years. Yet the Assembly has not even brought the bill up for a vote. In order to pass the bill, 76 votes are required in the Assembly and support was just short of that number. After passing the bill twice, the Senate did not bring the bill for a vote in 2018, ostensibly waiting for the Assembly to support online gambling.
The New York legislation would operate by categorizing online poker as a game of skill and not as a game of luck. This is the same vehicle that has been used to permit daily fantasy sports to operate. This would follow a prior ruling by a federal court in New York that stated that poker was not strictly a game of chance because it pits the skill level of players against each other. The proposed bill would allow licensees that are already permitted to operate certain games in the state to apply for a license. These licenses would be issued no later than 180 days after the passage of the legislation. The licensing fee would be set at $10 million, but this fee would then be able to be used towards the applicant’s tax obligations for five years after payment. The tax rate for online poker operators would be set at 15 percent.
The complications preventing the passage of online poker legalization are largely political. New York is known for its fractious politics, and Assembly is highly partisan in nature. Online gambling has drawn primarily Democratic support, but not enough to allow the bill to move forward. In addition, New York’s governor has not vocally supported online gaming which has prevented more Assemblymen from his own party from signing onto the bill. The governor purportedly has expressed concern that online gambling may negatively affect land-based casinos which will also harm tourism in New York. A prior gaming bill in 2013 expanded land-based gambling in New York, and there is a sentiment that those new casinos should be given the opportunity to succeed. This viewpoint is contrary to the experience in New Jersey, where online gambling has been critical to overall casino revenue.
Currently, Indian tribes have exclusivity agreements with New York. Further, disputes between casinos regarding revenue sharing prevented them from unifying to get behind the bill. New York is currently embroiled in a dispute with the Seneca Nation which has resulted in the tribe’s withholding of fees. The general turmoil and discord in the existing gaming industry has forestalled any kind of unified view that can be used to lobby the Assembly.
In addition, legalization of sports betting is another initiative that has failed to gain approval. There is a possibility that proponents of gambling could seek to combine poker and sports betting into one bill to get them both across the finish line. Legalization of daily fantasy sports required a large legislative lift and may have already sapped the political will of the legislature for any further advances with regard to gaming.
Size of the New York Market
New York is already an established gaming market that still has yet untapped potential. The state is currently struggling to integrate new casinos that were opened as part of the state’s recent gaming expansion. Revenues for the new casinos have fallen short of expectations. Nevertheless, the size of the pie in New York is large. In 2015, the existing racinos reaped over $2 billion in revenue from slot machines. The gaming expansion allowed table games at certain casinos, but revenues have not lived up to expectations. Some casinos have fallen as much as 44 percent behind revenue projections and have sought state assistance in the form of a lower tax rate.
New York is a large part of the daily fantasy sports market. After being frozen out of the activity until it could be legalized, New Yorkers have returned to DFS In large numbers. Currently, New York entries comprise roughly ten percent of the DFS market. The total DFS revenue nationwide in 2017 was approximately $335 million, meaning roughly $35 million in revenue originates from New York.
The horse racing industry has been an iconic institution in New York for over 100 years. Saratoga and Belmont are world-famous racetracks and the New York racing industry joins California as the two pre-eminent states for racing in the country. Horse racing revenues have declined in recent years consistent with the overall decline in the sport nationwide. The proliferation of gaming options has taken its toll on the sport. In 2016, handle at the state’s major tracks had fallen below $1.4 billion, a six percent drop from the previous year.
Future of Online Gaming in New York
New York faces an uncertain future with regard to online gambling. The state may have proverbially bitten off more than it can chew with regards to gaming expansion and may require some time to let the dust settle before it further expands gambling. However, with neighboring New Jersey and Pennsylvania having greatly expanded legalized gambling, New York may not have much time to get its house in order before it permanently loses customers to casinos in neighboring states. New York risks a return to the days where its residents took buses down to Atlantic City and New Jersey ended up benefiting from New York dollars.
It is anticipated that online gambling, as well as sports gambling, will eventually pass in New York. The 2018 legislative election may serve as the catalyst for passage. Democrats have largely been the party supportive of the expansion thus far, and the Democratic Party stands to gain seats in the upcoming legislative elections. The online gaming bill is likely to be brought up for passage yet again in the upcoming legislative session. At some point, the empirical data may convince legislators of the necessity of passing the legislation. Further, as casino operators lose business to neighboring states, they may gain the political will to band together in a unified lobbying effort.
Further, online poker has proven to be a popular game nationwide. New York residents may demand the ability to be able to engage in this activity legally from the comfort of their homes. The current legislation does not address other types of online table games. Given the loyalty of the political powers to the newly opened casinos, it is unlikely that online table games will be a part of any online gaming expansion until the new casinos steady themselves financially.