Super Bowl pushes NY sports wagering near $2.5B mark

PHOTOGRAPHER:

Patrons sit in the sports betting parlor at Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady on Nov. 12.

SCHENECTADY — A whopping $2.45 billion was bet electronically in New York on sporting events in the first five weeks of mobile sports wagering, up through Super Bowl Sunday.

The first month of legal mobile sports wagering in New York was the highest one-month performance ever, for any state, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced last week, before the week leading up to the big game was tallied.

All those wagers resulted in $154 million of gross gaming revenue for the sportsbook operators, which will mean $78.5 million in tax collections for New York, which has the highest tax rate on mobile wagers in the nation.

“Over the past month, we’ve seen how mobile sports wagering can be an economic engine for New York, driving significant funding to our schools, youth sports, and so much more,” Hochul said in a prepared statement last week.

Mobile sports wagering began in New York on Jan. 8 and bettor activity has been influenced in ways that may prove unique or unsustainable: 

  • There is a novelty factor — bettors created 1.76 million unique accounts and placed 187 million wagers in New York in the first month;
  • The NFL postseason, which is so popular with gamblers, was in progress when mobile wagering started but ended with the Super Bowl;
  • Promotional giveaways by electronic sportsbook operators — “We’ll match your first deposit with a Free Bet up to $1,500 When You Deposit at Least $50” — are not quantified in reporting by the state Gaming Commission, but are potentially a significant profit drain for operators. 

In-person sports wagering at New York’s four non-Indian casinos amounts to a fraction of the new electronic wagering. These  in–person wagers at the four retail sportsbooks are down 19.6% on average per week since the mobile alternative became available.

Rivers Casino Schenectady, where the sportsbook so far this fiscal year has seen almost as much money wagered as the other three sportsbooks combined, is down 21.4%, from an average of $1.76 million a week up to Jan. 2 to $1.36 million from Jan. 3 through Feb. 13.

Rush Street Interactive operates the retail sportsbook at Rivers Casino Schenectady and also operates a mobile platform under its own name. Both Rush Street Interactive and Rivers are owned by Rush Street Gaming of Chicago.

Meanwhile, Rush Street Interactive has lagged behind most of its competitors, with $1.9 million in gross gaming revenue on $52.4 million worth of wagers.

Caesars Sportsbook, by contrast, realized $70.5 million in gross gaming revenue on $809.9 million worth of wagers through Feb. 13. FanDuel was close behind on wagers, at $807.5 million, but realized only $27.5 million out of it in gross gaming revenue. 

The state will use tax revenue from sports wagering for K-12 education, property tax relief, youth sports and treatment of problem gambling, which advocates say is likely to increase due to the availability of mobile sports wagering anytime and anywhere.

Chinazo Cunningham, commissioner of the New York state Office of Addiction Services and Supports, said in a news release: “OASAS is committed to ensuring that individuals and families in need of assistance for problem gambling have access to all available supports and resources in our state. The revenue from the launch of mobile sports gambling will provide much-needed financial support to problem gambling prevention, treatment and recovery services.”

By John Cropley

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