BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – History will be made Saturday when the first mobile sports bets will be placed in New York State. Four sportsbooks – FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars, and BetRivers – have the go ahead to launch at 9 a.m.
This is expected to have a major impact. State officials estimate mobile sports betting will create $357 million in tax revenue for state government next fiscal year, increasing to $474 million the following year, and $493 million the next.
It carries with it a whopping 51% tax rate. But that isn’t spoiling the enthusiasm of the operators launching this weekend.
“New York represents 6% of the U.S. population. But it’s a huge moment for FanDuel as well,” explained Amy Howe, the sportsbook’s CEO. “We’re headquartered in New York.”
All along, Howe says they wanted to be ready to go by the time the Super Bowl is played in February. Now, they’ll launch before the playoffs even begin.
“It’s really important,” she said. “Football is the largest acquisition sport for us. We bring in more consumers through the NFL, through football in general than any other sport.”
Ken Fuchs, the Head of Sports for Caesars, said Friday night will be like New Year’s Eve.
“There is no state like New York,” he said.
“It’s so much more than New York City. It’s obviously many, many regions. They’re all different. When you come into a state like New York, you really need to understand the differences in terms of where you operate,” added Fuchs.
The sportsbooks are already battling it out for customers. In Western New York, the Seneca Nation is part of that battle. They won’t be launching a mobile sports betting platform, but the Nation continues to operate a sportsbook inside its casinos.
In a statement, Seneca Gaming Corporation President Kevin Nephew argued their sports lounges are part of a larger gaming and entertainment experience.
“That experience and environment can’t be replicated in your living room,” Nephew said.
With the birth of mobile sports betting in New York comes a concern for organizations which focus on gambling addiction. The field is regulated by the New York State Gaming Commission, which points out it is requiring the sportsbook operators to adopt a “NY-first approach” to problem gambling and responsible gaming.
For instance the Commission requires operators to have an internet page dedicated to responsible play, which includes the availability of self-imposed limits.
“In the app itself, we provide world-class tools so you can go in and control your own experience,” said Fuchs. “You can set limits on betting, deposits, and time.”
“They can set wager, deposit, and time limits,” Howe said of FanDuel customers as well. “But there are a number of things that we’re doing to make sure we can better educate and help that consumer.”
In New Jersey, mobile sports betting was legalized in 2018. That same year, 5.5% of all calls to The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey’s helpline were related to sports book gambling, reported the non-profit dedicated to providing education and referral services for people affected by a gambling problem. Just two years later, in 2020, 23% of all calls were related to such gambling.
Angela DiRosa, program manager for the New York Council on Problem Gambling, says mobile sports wagering can also introduce a new generation of bettors to the market.
“Some folks may have never gambled before or have never gambled in more traditional means, like a casino or card games,” DiRosa said.
In New York, you will have to be 21 years old to place a bet. Date of birth is just one of the several pieces of personal information you will be required to submit when you sign up.
“It’s a very rigorous process,” said Howe, the FanDuel CEO. “We work with third parties to make sure we can verify you. Until you are fully verified to be able to bet on our platform, you won’t be able to successfully place a bet.”
While the state heavily regulates mobile sports betting, Howe believes it’s for good reason and not over-regulated.
“We’re more concerned about the long term viability of the industry and our company,” she said. “So we want to do that in a safe and regulated way. We think the measures that the New York Gaming Commission are taking are absolutely in line with that end goal.”
Five additional operators – Bally Bet, BetMGM, Wynn, Resorts World, and PointsBet – have been granted conditional licenses by the state. Commission officials say they will be approved to launch on a rolling basis as statutory and regulatory conditions are met.
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more of his work here.