SCHENECTADY — There’s no place like Las Vegas in New York, but the Empire State could potentially overtake Nevada when it comes to at least one gambling record – the amount of mobile sports wagering made on a Super Bowl Sunday.
The odds of that look more and more realistic when one considers that during the first three weeks in which mobile sports betting has been allowed in New York, more than $1.17 billion has been wagered, according to state Gaming Commission records. Mobile sports betting, made legal in New York last year and launched for consumers last month, allows people to place bets on their smartphones and other mobile devices.
“New York has exceeded all our expectations,” said Mattias Stetz, COO of Rush Street Interactive Inc., referring to the first day of open betting. Rush Street runs the BetRivers wagering app affiliated with Rivers casino.
The one-day record for mobile sports wagering was set back in 2018 when bettors wagered $158.6 million in Nevada. Mobile sports betting is tied to the state where the bet is being made. And with some 20 million people compared to Nevada’s 3 million, New York could potentially surpass the Silver State in the volume of mobile sports bets, especially on a big wagering day such as Super Bowl Sunday. That will be Feb. 13 this year, with the Cincinnati Bengals playing the Los Angeles Rams.
“Certainly breaking a monthly record is within reach, so to have that kind of handle, it’s obtainable for New York,” Queens Democratic Assemblyman Joseph Addabbo told the PlayNY gaming website about the odds of breaking the Vegas record.
Addabbo, along with his Senate counterpart, Westchester Democrat Gary Pretlow, worked for years on setting up the state’s mobile betting framework.
Record-breaking or not, New York sports fans have jumped on the chance to place bets on their mobile devices since the platforms went live on Jan. 1.
“This is about where I thought it would be,” Pretlow said of the numbers. “We’re definitely going to be the sports betting capital of the world.”
Getting mobile sports betting in New York was particularly pressing, supporters say, given that New Jersey had already legalized such betting.
To place wagers, bettors need to be present in the state where the platforms are based. With the Garden State opening its mobile bets in 2018, the fear was that residents of the New York City area would get in the habit of simply driving across the border to place mobile bets.
The extent to which the practice will be profitable for sports betting platforms though remains to be seen given the promotions that providers are offering.
Sports fans who use Facebook for instance may have noticed the ubiquitous ads such as those from Caesar’s or Bet MGM, which are offering enticements such as $200 in free bets after making a $10 wager.
The mobile platforms don’t provide specifics of their profit margins, although the five providers that are up and running reported gross gaming revenues of $91.5 million during the first three weeks in New York. Gross revenues represent what is left after paying off winning bets.
That New York, with the nation’s fourth-largest population and a full menu of sports teams, brought in a lot of bets isn’t a surprise, said Alan Woinski, who runs Gaming USA, a group of newsletters and gaming consultants.
But there have also been a lot of costly promotions. “A lot of the early handle is boosted by the ridiculous promotions we have seen,” said Woinski.
And Pretlow believes the ground rules for mobile sports betting may be leaving money on the table. Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration set a minimum 51 percent tax rate for platforms wishing to operate in New York.
With a lower tax rate, New York might have drawn more providers, Pretlow believes.
“If there was more competition people would have multiple options,” said Pretlow, who noted that New Jersey has 21 platforms.
So far, the five vendors operating in New York are Rush Street Interactive, Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook, Bet MGM and FanDuel Sportsbook.
Approved but not yet running are Wynn Interactive, PointsBet Sportsbook, and ResortsWorld Bet.
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