NY Sports Day

New York Sports Betting 2020

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By: Sam Shefrin

New York’s Outlook for Mobile Sportsbook Apps – Betting a Pandemic Will Compel Change


New York as a state was hit tremendously hard by our most recent a worldwide viral pandemic. The coronavirus hit much harder in New York City than anywhere else in the United States. The sum toll of death and heartbreak has been enormously traumatic.

New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, has been one of the most visible political figures since the outbreak began wreaking havoc last March. It would be insensitive not to express heartfelt sympathy for anyone who suffered as a result of this terrible period in history.

COVID-19 took a toll on humanity, but it also bludgeoned the world economy. Being one of the hardest-hit places, New York’s financial woes prior to the pandemic have been magnified even more over the last four months.

However, for all the pain and anguish created by such a horrible experience, sports betting in New York may see a ray of hope. Let’s look at the New York betting timeline, and discuss why current events may make it inevitable for mobile sportsbook apps to be launched.

The New York Sports Betting Timeline

New York’s legislators approved regulations for sports betting at physical locations in January 2019. After watching New Jersey’s success, lawmakers realized that revenue was simply walking across the proverbial state line.

When Pennsylvania legalized sportsbooks, the problem compounded. The idea that New York would hand over much-needed financial revenue seemed senseless to all residents, sports fans alike. Nevertheless, it took roughly a year to open the first sportsbook.

Even though New York was the 14th state to permit sportsbooks, it restricted sportsbook venues to four upstate casinos. They included no provisions in the legislation for mobile betting. Many were scratching their heads at this development.

While lawmakers saw the success of other states that came before them, they seemed to ignore the numbers. In June 2019, Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. attempted to amend the sports betting bill to include online wagering.

The bill passed the New York Senate by a 57 to 5 vote. However, Governor Cuomo vetoed the bill. There was overwhelming support for an online amendment to the final sports betting legislation, but Cuomo publically said he would not approve such.

To date, there seems to be little progress towards opening up New York to mobile sports bettors. New Jersey specifically showed tremendous promise from each licensed sportsbook apps operating in the state.

Eighty percent of the betting revenue was generated online according to nybettingreport.com. As insensitive as it might sound, the thought of New York’s State Treasury facing bankruptcy might alter the course of mobile sports betting. But, why does the governor of New York taking such an adamant stance against something it appears everyone else in his state wants?

Why so Much Resistance from the Governor?

The path to legal sports betting in New York was bumpy. Clearly, the process of including mobile sportsbook apps is proving even more difficult. Nearly all the resistance comes from the governor’s office. Most, who hope to change his mind, is at a loss for any actual reason.

Governor Cuomo’s black eye in a battle with two prominent sportsbook players, FanDuel and DraftKings may be part of the issue. Cuomo lost that battle to have each of these daily fantasy sports companies ruled illegal in his state.

While there is no direct evidence pointing to any personal animosity, it would seem his resistance to online sports betting is a reality. Some assume it stems from his administration’s legal defeat.

As New York faces extreme financial hardship, it would seem like a time to put petty differences aside. There is some hope from the final outcome of the New York vs. DFS legal squabble.

The governor ultimately did sign the law in August 2016, which ruled daily fantasy sports contests have not deemed a form of gambling. There were rumors that Cuomo was going to veto that bill, but he didn’t.

Regardless, since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on sports betting, New York’s highest office has displayed reluctance towards welcoming mobile sportsbook operations with open arms. In fact, it’s been essentially a no-go proposition.

In his defense, Cuomo insists that legal mobile sports betting in New York would require amending the state constitution. Despite a collective bipartisan disagreement on that being legal truth, that’s really the only bonafide reason the governor has presented.

The governor also floated around the weak idea that he had reservations about everyone being able to bet from their phone. During a radio interview, Cuomo wasn’t pressed on his reasoning behind that substance-lacking excuse.

Problem gambling in his state seemed to be the impetus behind his concerns. However, lawmakers have already visited this problem inside the legislation. The bill to amend the legal sports betting law included 14 points to deal with problem gambling issues.

While lawmakers have apparently tried to dot all their I’s and cross all their T’s Cuomo still voices resistance to mobile sportsbooks. However, the staff at the New York Treasurers Office may be whispering a new wind of change needs to be in the air.

Could Change Be in the Air?

A deadly virus that floats around in air might be the catalyst that changes the prospects for mobile sports betting in New York. Again, there is no way any sense of pleasure taken from such a tragedy changing the fortunes for mobile sportsbooks.

However, there is no getting around reality. New York was in bad financial straits before the pandemic. The state is staring down the thought of bankruptcy after COVID-19 has devastated its already bleak monetary outlook.

There isn’t a single state currently allowing legal sports bets that haven’t benefitted financially from the decision. New York lawmakers realized that when they agreed to open physical locations.

Nevertheless, there is also no disputing the massive amount of betting handle that is being wagered using mobile devices. Reports surfaced last year when Addabbo Jr. was pushing his mobile app legislation that 84 lawmakers supported the idea.

It would only take 74 to ignite a sort of a reverse coup against the governorship. Legal mobile sports betting didn’t make a hasty budget adjustment heading into 2021. We can thank the pandemic for that.

But, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow has a way to circumvent gubernatorial approval. He has proposed altering the state constitution to remove the governor’s control of decisions relegated to the New York Gaming Commission.

Lawmakers had hoped to avoid this route because of the time it would take to unfold. Constitutional amendments in New York take between two and three years. Facing immediate financial hardship makes this proposition even more unappealing.

A vote won’t materialize any sooner than 2021. However, because of the financially lucrative potential, sportsbook apps will remain a hotly debated topic. When lawmakers and the governor’s office finally reach a logical agreement, here’s what the future of mobile sports betting might look like in New York.

The Future of Mobile Sports Betting for New York

Regardless of which path lawmakers take to bring the mobile betting option to sports bettors in New York, certain operators are going to have an edge. Ironically, two of the leading candidates will be the two companies that Governor Cuomo butted heads with over DFS. Let’s take a look at three of the most likely players vying for the lucrative New York mobile sports betting market.

DraftKings Sportsbook App

There is simply no avoiding the two most successful mobile sportsbook apps, regardless of the feelings the New York Governor may have against them. DraftKings is producing successful results that hit too close to home for New York’s sports betting revenue objectives.

Both DraftKings and FanDuel are operating mobile sportsbook apps in Pennsylvania as well. DraftKings sportsbook is currently pushing $1,000 worth of new account and first deposit incentives.

DraftKings currently operates a sportsbook app in seven of the legal online betting states. Now, success in other states notwithstanding, DraftKings also has an affiliation on their side. DraftKings sportsbook app in New Jersey is under the sports betting license of Resorts World.

This is the same Resorts World that operates three casinos in New York. One of their locations is the Resorts World Catskills. This casino is one of the legal sportsbook venues in New York.

Look for DraftKing’s massive customer base, proven track record, and ties to current New York sportsbook operations to put them at the top of any list of candidates for New York mobile sportsbook app providers.

FanDuel Sportsbook App

FanDuel may have a stronger chance of gaining access to New York’s mobile sports betting market than its DFS rival DraftKings. One of the current physical FanDuel sportsbook locations in New York is at the Tioga Downs Casino Resort.

FanDuel provides the sportsbook operations at this venue. Already having skin in the New York sports betting game should certainly bode well for Fan Duel. The fact that they have overwhelmed the competition right across the border in New Jersey will be a huge factor as well.

There is a strong indication that FanDuel will pass along the same $500 risk-free first bet opportunity, if or when they launch mobile operations in New York. FanDuel is currently operator successful mobile sportsbook apps in five states, bordering New Jersey and Pennsylvania being two of them.

FanDuel and DraftKings have a huge sportsbook app presence already established across the country. One or both operate in nearly every state where online betting is legal. They also provide the logistic platform for a number of brick-and-mortar sportsbook facilities.

BetMGM Sportsbook

A third potential player in securing a spot in the New York mobile sportsbook game will be BetMGM. MGM International’s presence in New Jersey as a sportsbook app operator will be a minor asset to their chances across the state line in New York.

However, owning the Bellagio in New York City will be a huge feather in their cap. The Bellagio will sway a lot of support from lawmakers when the final sportsbook licenses are approved.

One factor may be the argument that creating only fixed locations in the upstate has discriminated against residents in the biggest international city in the world. Allowing the MGM International ties with the Bellagio to launch the BetMGM sportsbook app would appease a lot of people.

Like FanDuel BetMGM has an established presence in four current online legal sports betting states. Likewise, the worldwide reputation of MGM Resorts will further provide support and assurances that could push them across the New York online sports betting finish line.

BetMGM also has one of the higher sportsbook app ratings for user-friendliness. They also earned high marks for customer service, most likely stemming from MGM’s powerful presence in the casino industry.

When Will it Happen?

The fate of online sports betting in New York will ultimately rest in the hands of either the lawmakers or the governor. Fearing political quicksand will slow down the process; legislators are hoping to avoid circumventing the governor’s necessary approval to launch mobile betting.

However, there is a clear consensus that New York needs to over online options to sports bettors beyond the physical locations currently operating sportsbooks. There is simply too much-documented evidence of how prevalent mobile betting is in other states.

When it happens is anyone’s guess. Because of the pandemic, the necessary amendments didn’t make it into the 2020 New York budget. Some question if they will pass muster and make it on the budget proposals for 2021.

There are some glaring facts that New York legislators and its governor must face. One is that they were in poor financial straits before a pandemic devastated the entire state. Second, there is a proven financial revenue history behind mobile sports betting.

As discussions continue and debates over sportsbook apps continue, it may turn out to be the results of a deadly pandemic that opens the path for mobile sportsbooks in New York. It is a true shame such a dreadful thing had to happen.

Nevertheless, it may prove a beacon of light for New York’s financial woes. The facts and figures are there for New York bean counters to analyze. Two neighboring states have benefitted tremendously from online sports betting revenue.

There is also a general consensus New York needs to be on board as well. Now it’s up to one man it seems. It will be hard to imagine Governor Andrew Cuomo looking a gift horse in the mouth and continuing his resistance against mobile sportsbook apps. Time will tell.