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Momentum Finally Picking Up Again For New York Mobile Sports Betting

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Momentum Finally Picking Up Again For New York Mobile Sports Betting
New York City. Photo by Patrick Tomasso.

The seemingly on-again-off-again saga of legal mobile sports betting in one of the biggest markets in the country is on again after The New York State Gaming Commission put out a long-awaited request for applications (RFA) on Friday. Although eight days overdue, the request was certainly a welcome one and kicks off what will be a 30-day application period for prospective providers and a 150-day period for the New York State Gaming Commission to choose the lucky few that will get a crack at what is expected to be a robust mobile platform.

Applicants will have to meet a pretty strict list of criteria in order to be considered for one of the coveted licenses in New York. Providers will be scored on those criteria based on prior experience and their desires to make the New York scene viable.

Up for grabs will be a minimum of two platform and four mobile sports betting licenses to partner with New York.

“The statute (a new section of New York racing, pari-mutuel wagering and breeding law) directs the Commission to conduct a competitive bidding process to award licenses to Mobile Sports Wagering Platform Providers based on the ability of the Platform Provider to maximize sustainable, long-term revenue for the State,” the RFA states. “Pursuant to that authority, the Commission issues this RFA to license two or more Mobile Sports Wagering Platform Providers.”

What Is Required for a License

New York certainly isn’t making it easy for prospective legal sports betting providers to get in the Empire State door. First, hopeful applicants will have to meet a long list of criteria, and then will be scored on their ability to provide the necessary services laid out in the criteria list.

Included in the baseline expectations for providers include their ability to take and register bets, generate tickets for the bets, compute wagering and payoffs, keep records of all betting activity, generate and/or submit reports required by the commission, maintain the integrity of the platform, create a secure method for remote access to the platform and maintain all transactional data for seven years and establish a wallet that can be used on all sportsbooks associated with that platform.

Hopeful providers will be expected to divulge their marketing strategies and just how they expect to lure voters away from the far-too-common offshore books.

Now for the Scoring

When pouring through the criteria, regulators will be scoring the candidates. Successful applicants will have to gain at least 60 of the 75 possible points.

Up to 25 points will be available for sports betting expertise, both by platform and sportsbooks. A maximum of 20 points will be available for integrity, sustainability and safety of the platform. Past relevant experience for both platform and sportsbooks will be worth up to 15 points and advertising and promo plans can gain up to 7.5 points.

Tax Rate

New York’s plan gets a bit complicated when it comes to the tax rate that must accompany any application as per Governor Cuomo’s request. It too will be scored as part of the consideration process underway.

On top of how prospective providers meet the criteria for operation in the state, 20 points awarded to applicants with a 50% tax plan, with an additional point awarded for each full percentage point over 50%. 12.5%-30% will get 3 points, 30%-40% – 10 points and 40%-50% – 15 points. Simply put, the more tax a provider is willing to cough up, the better score they will get.

The RFA states: “An applicant must provide a tax rate that is fifty (50) percent or greater for its Preferred Scenario. However, if the Applicant’s Preferred Scenario alone is less that the statutory minimum of two Platform Providers and Four Operators, the Applicant must instead provide a tax rate that is fifty (50) percent or greater for such statutory minimum scenario.”

What’s at Stake

New York’s current retail-only sports betting industry has been underwhelming to say the least. Adding mobile wagering will instantly make the Empire State one of the biggest sports betting markets in the country.

“New York has the potential to be the largest sports wagering market in the United States, and by legalizing online sports betting we aim to keep millions of dollars in tax revenue here at home, which will only strengthen our ability to rebuild from the Covid-19 crisis,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a recent statement.

“Mobile sports betting we think could raise $500 million dollars. Many states have done it” Cuomo added.

Who and When

There are currently four out-of-the-way upstate retail casinos operating in New York. The two DFS giants-turned legal sports betting behemoths run two of the locations, Bet365 has another and BetRivers the other. All four are expected to file requests for application. You can bet that Caesars, BetMGM, Barstool Sportsbook and a few other Heavyweight providers also have their eye on the New York scene as well.

The application process starts July 16 with deadlines for questions coming July 27. Responses to those questions are expected August 2 with the application deadline coming August 9.

According to the RFA, selection of the lucky applicants will take place before December 9. After that, successful applicants will need some time to set up and launch what they hope is a successful and lucrative launch.

So, while it is good news that the framework for a long-overdue New York mobile sports betting platform is in place, there is still a ton of work to do before it indeed goes live. The end of 2021 looks to be out of the question. The Super Bowl in February seems like the most realistic goal.