NY Sets Mark But Sports Betting Still Badly Trails Neighbors

NY Sets Mark But Sports Betting Still Badly Trails Neighbors

The demand for sports betting in New York was reflected in record-setting revenue numbers at the Empire State’s four sportsbooks recorded in January — with hopes of better times ahead, given the governor’s about-face on mobile wagering.

Three of the four commercial sportsbooks in New York recorded their best month ever in January, with the quartet combining to collect a total of $3.570 million in gross gaming revenue. That’s a marked increase from the total of $2.3 million the books reported in December 2020, and significantly up from even the $1.943 million reported in January 2020 — before the coronavirus pandemic.

This according to figures released by the New York State Gaming Commission.

New York legalized in-person sports betting in July 2019, but its lack of an online option has left the state far behind neighboring New Jersey in sports betting revenue. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had been a staunch opponent of mobile sports betting, but he has more recently backed the idea as a way to help close a $15 billion state budget shortfall.

Cuomo, though, wants the state to run mobile sports betting rather than the casinos. “I’m not here to make casinos a lot of money. I’m here to raise funds for the state, so we have a different model for sports betting,” he told reporters in January. State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. has proposed legislation that would allow commercial and tribal casinos to offer mobile sports betting, which stands at odds with Cuomo’s plan.

Rivers Leads New York Casinos

The January revenue numbers at New York’s four sportsbooks certainly indicate potential despite limitations associated with a lack of legal mobile sports betting. Rivers Casino and Resort in Schenectady, Del Lago Casino and Resort in Waterloo and Tioga Downs Casino in Nichols all enjoyed their best sports-betting months ever. Resorts World Catskills in Monticello recorded its second-best month since the practice was legalized.

Rivers was the top producer of gross sports betting revenue with $1.429 million in January, outdistancing the $949,804 from December 2020 and topping its monthly record of $1.074 million from October 2020. The DraftKings sportsbook at Del Lago crossed the $1 million mark for the first time in January, reporting $1.27 million in gross sports betting revenue, to eclipse its previous best of $949,710 set in November 2020.

Resorts World Catskills reported $479,557 in gross sports betting revenue in January, a huge increase from the $108,948 it totaled in December 2020. January was the casino’s second-best sports-betting month ever, trailing only the $506,380 it reported in October 2019. The FanDuel sportsbook at Tioga Downs also enjoyed its best month, reporting $390,349 in gross revenue and bettering the record of $347,089 collected in November 2020.

New Jersey’s Shadow Looms Large

January revenue numbers (New York does not report handle) were a boost to an industry that weathered a grueling 2020. New York casinos were closed in March due to the pandemic, and reopened Sept. 9 under strict coronavirus protocols such as occupancy limits, social distancing mandates, mask requirements, requirements for enhanced air filtration systems and a ban on gaming floor drink service.

With no mobile betting options available, casinos were unable to collect sports-betting revenue for five months. Totals since the sportsbooks reopened have been inconsistent, with a modest increase in November gross sports betting revenue followed by a 13.8 percent decrease in December.

It all stands in marked contrast to what’s occurring in neighboring New Jersey, where robust in-person and mobile sports wagering infrastructure draws a number of bettors from across the Hudson River. The Garden State in 2020 recorded a sports betting handle of $6.017 billion — 92 percent of which was wagered online — which despite the pandemic marked a 30 percent increase from the year before, and collected $398 million in revenue.

Another neighboring state with a robust mobile market, Pennsylvania, also set a state record for sports betting handle with $548.6 million in December.