New York Signals Its Finally “Woke” on Mobile Sports Betting

New York Signals Its Finally “Woke” on Mobile Sports Betting
New York City. Photo by Patrick Tomasso.

The road to legal mobile sports betting in the state of New York has been long, but momentum toward a mature and robust internet-based platform has gone to a different level with comments from the previously hesitant Governor Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo, a long-time opponent of legal sports betting expansion for his state has slowly been coming around to the merits of such a platform, and in the past few weeks, he has been vocal publicly about his desire to become “Woke” on the subject.

According to the New York Daily News, Cuomo will officially break from his historical reluctance and will call for legalized online and mobile sports betting in New York as part of his State of the State address, which comes down next week. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and in New York, desperate times are nine-months-old.

The New York Scene as It Exists Today

New York’s current sports betting scene has, up until now, been looked upon as a bit of a joke for local bettors and betting providers that have hoped to make a go of the New York market. Somehow, for a variety of head-scratching reasons, New York has opted to stick with a retail-only platform, run out of four upstate casinos, far from the major urban centers that would make it more viable.

With COVID-restrictions and the fact that New York’s brick-and-mortar facilities are so far away from the population centers, it is no wonder that the state hasn’t even registered on the radar of the most bet-friendly states in the Nation. Virtually nobody is taking advantage of New York’s legal sports betting scene and one of the wealthiest and largest markets in the country seems to be going to waste.

Reasons for the Change of Heart

The main reason for Cuomo’s change of heart on a mobile sports betting platform for his state is purely financial. When addressing his budget for the next fiscal year, Cuomo found himself staring at a budget deficit of over $15 billion and having to make up for a $14 billion shortfall from the current year. Cuomo knew he had to make up the money somewhere, and in late-December said:

“Are there other ways to get revenue? How about marijuana? How about sports betting? So, if the legislature wants to do the budget now, we can do that.”

New York had been identified as one of the most exciting sports betting markets in the country but has obviously been seriously hindered by its retail-only model.

“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,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The Jersey-Factor

The success of the New Jersey legal sports betting scene definitely cannot escape the radar of Governor Cuomo and those in charge of New York’s underwhelming legal sports betting scene.

Sportsbooks in New Jersey took $931.6 million in bets in November alone, an impressive spike from the $803 million the state saw in October. Betting apps were responsible for $872 million of the $931,620,415 handle which represents a record-93.6% of the overall haul. From January 2020 to the end of November, New Jersey surpassed an almost-unfathomable $5 billion yearly sports betting handle.

About $6.2 million in tax revenue was generated for needy New Jersey state and local coffers off November’s revenues alone.

Some estimates say that 25% of sports betting revenues in New Jersey are thanks to bettors from New York. One interesting figure that Cuomo and New York legislators have to be aware of is New Jersey earning $33.81 in sports betting revenue per capita in 2019 with New York earning just $0.85 per capita.

No Firm Plans as of Yet

While Cuomo and the New York legislator have signaled their intention to move toward legalizing mobile sports betting, as of now, no further details have come to light.

“I’m thankful for the Governor moving mobile sports betting in New York closer to crossing the goal line,” said New York State senator Joe Addabbo, leading proponent of a mobile sports betting platform for the state. “I now await the details.”

Addabbo went on to say about the potential particulars, “Those are some of the details that I hope to work with the Governor’s office in the coming days. I’m hopeful his administration is just as enthusiastic and energetic about implementing mobile sports betting in our state as I am.”