New York online casino could be as far as six years off, but Empire State and New Jersey lawmakers and online and retail casino operators are preparing for it now. Everywhere from gaming conferences to conversations with journalists, they’re speaking about mobile casino gambling as though it’s going to happen and that it’s just a matter of when.
The most optimistic person about New York online casino legalization is State Sen. Joseph Addabbo, D-Queens, who tells NY Sports Day he will push to have its legalization included in the 2023 state budget.
However, as “committed and fearless” as Addabbo is, he still must move at the pace of the New York State Legislature and other gambling regulatory bodies, says John A. Pappas, founder and CEO of Corridor Consulting. Pappas says if New York’s legalization of daily fantasy sports (DFS) and mobile sportsbooks are indications, that pace can be rather deliberate.
Speaking to NY Sports Day on Wednesday in his capacity as the state advocacy director for iDEA Growth (development and Economic Association), Pappas pointed out that DFS and online sports betting legalization took a long time.
Plus, DFS endured a lengthy legal challenge after its 2016 passage. When courts resolved the matter in March 2022, legal New York online sportsbooks were three months old.
If New York online casino gambling launches in that timeframe, it won’t be live until 2028.
However, whether mobile casino gambling is a reality next year or six years from now, the conversation about New York online casino seems to have changed from the hypothetical to the real.
New York Online Casino vs. New Jersey
At the East Coast Gaming Congress and NexGen Gaming Forum (ECGC) on Sept. 22, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s keynote included his take on how his state is preparing for legal New York online casino competing with his state’s market.
His comparisons primarily concentrated on the upcoming competition among retail casino operators for three full licenses in Downstate New York.
Murphy termed it NYC vs. AC: “It’s a tale of two cities right now.”
In 2021, New York’s 12 commercial casinos generated $2.71 billion in gross gaming revenue (GGR), according to the American Gaming Association (AGA). Adding in the state’s 19 tribal casinos, New York’s retail casino GGR was $3.64 billion.
New Jersey’s nine retail casinos, all non-tribal and all in Atlantic City, brought in $4.74 billion during that exact timetable.
“Forty-five years ago, nobody could’ve imagined how the casino industry would evolve,” Murphy said.
Atlantic City’s first retail casino opened in 1978.
New Jersey online casino GGR isn’t included in those totals. It’s already generated more than $1 billion in GGR during the first eight months of 2022.
Retail Casinos Partner With Online Casinos
Similar to New Jersey and other states with legal online casino gambling, Addabbo’s proposed legislation partners land-based casinos with online casinos.
Until officials select licensees for the three newly available licenses, only four of New York’s dozen commercial casinos have full licenses. Full licenses are the ones that would allow retail casinos to partner with New York online casino operators if the bills become law.
Officials aren’t yet that far along in the process.
This month, the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) will select members for the Gaming Facility Location Board (GFLB).
However, retail casino operators are already letting officials know they’re interested in the licenses.
Downstate retail casino license bidding is turning into the “silly season,” Kevin Jones said on Sept. 22 at ECGC. Jones is the chief strategy and legal officer at Resorts World Casino and Genting Americas.
Jones spoke as though his company’s retail casino in Queens, Resorts World New York, would win one of those full licenses. He opined that Empire City Casino in Yonkers, an MGM Resorts International property, would get a second. The third would involve the most competition, he said.
Addabbo told NY Sports Day he believes the licenses may sell for $1 billion each.
Jones estimates licensees will be buying into $4 billion to $10 billion in GGR.
“The opportunity downstate is obviously enormous,” Jones said.