Legal sports betting is about to go mainstream in the Empire State. Let’s take a look at how we got here, what still needs to be decided, and when you’ll be able to start wagering.
New York sports bettors who had previously taken the PATH to New Jersey (or perhaps made an arrangement to wager on a ballgame via Venmo with an out-of-town friend) breathed a sigh of relief in April of this year when the state passed a bill legalizing online sports wagering.
But as quickly as the rejoicing began, questions naturally arose. When can I begin betting? Which sportsbooks will I be able to use? Is it worth it to bet legally?
The truth is, many in New York, just like others around the country, were already getting involved in mobile wagering one way or another with popular offshore books like Bovada and BetOnline. In an effort to increase revenue, states like New York saw the opportunity to regulate betting and take a share of the profits, much like cannabis legislation across the country.
It took the Coronavirus pandemic to eventually push state legislatures to make the move and recoup some of their losses, but the state got there in the end.
So, four months later, where do we stand on mobile wagering? What progress have we made? When will this all be over? Let’s answer some of those questions as we lay out the timeline for wagering.
Where did we start?
It was April 6 when Governor Andrew Cuomo eventually won his push for New York to adopt a competitive model as opposed to a state-run lottery model when it comes to mobile sports betting.
That meant that instead of the state operating the wagering, the job would be outsourced to the proverbial highest bidder and take a percentage of the revenue.
Nearly two weeks later, Cuomo signed online sports betting into law.
Afterward, the New York State Gaming Commission met and worked on the rules and regulations surrounding mobile wagering so they could draft an official Request for Application. It was 30 pages long, and it contained just about every detail that an applicant would need to know.
It also laid out just how the state would evaluate each application.
Where are we now?
The commission set an Aug. 9 deadline for applications and received six bids. There were three individual bids in bet365, FOX Bet, and theScore Bet. Then, two group bids took place. One included Caesars, which is making a big push for online wagering with a recent acquisition of William Hill, Wynn Interactive, and PointsBet.
Kambi also made a headline-grabbing bid as part of a group including Penn National, which owns Barstool Sportsbook, and Fanatics Sportsbook.
The latter doesn’t entirely exist yet, but will be a subsidiary of the apparel and memorabilia company of the same name owned by Michael Rubin, a co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers. Jay-Z is a notable investor of Fanatics and will serve as vice chairman of the sportsbook’s bid.
With the bids in, the state will begin its approval process, and there’s actually a formulaic way the commission will go about selecting the winning bid, with a school rubric-like points system.
The majority of the weight will be placed on “expertise in the market” and “integrity, sustainability and safety” with things like promotional plans, diversity, and continued growth being smaller factors.
Bids that agree to share 50% or more of the revenue with the state will also be better-positioned to be chosen, and the state already said it would like half of the revenue to be shared.
When will I be able to bet in New York?
The commission technically has 150 days from Aug. 9 to choose an operator, which would be Jan. 6, 2022, but the Request for Application stated that the process is expected to be concluded by the first week of December. The state has maintained that it hopes to be up and running by the Super Bowl this year, and Senator Joseph Addabbo confirmed this in a news conference on Tuesday.
“We have to be up and running by the Super Bowl,” he said. “That’s the big date. That’s the moneymaker.”
There was also a question on Tuesday as to whether or not Cuomo’s upcoming resignation would impact the process at all, but that does not appear to be the case. You should be able to make wagers on your phones early next year, and most likely by the time the big game rolls around.
Will other ways to bet still exist?
This remains to be seen. The state is looking to maximize its revenue in sports betting, but one offshore provider, Bovada, has already barred its New York players from their site.
Previously, New York residents could log on to Bovada from any device and deposit money in an account to bet using cryptocurrency or a money voucher.
It’s likely other offshores will follow suit, and it’s unlikely the general public in New York would choose one of these books over an established sportsbook like the ones in the above bids; they were used out of necessity before.
Offshore credit accounts are another popular way folks are able to online wager, settling up each week with an agent via cash payment. This is the preferred way to bet for consumers because taxes aren’t involved, but it also remains to be seen whether the state will restrict some of these sites.
Critically, there won’t be any additional taxes to be paid on winnings once betting is indeed legal. It will just count as additional income on your taxes.
In the big picture, much remains to be settled regarding the fine print of New York sports betting. But no matter what form the legalese ends up taking, a gaming evolution is officially coming to the No. 4 most populous state in the country that will reach in all directions.