ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) — Mobile sports betting has turned into a better-than-expected source of income for New York State, but its rise has also led to more gambling-related calls to the Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS).

A report from the Office of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli revealed this. The New York State Gaming Commission says that with the legalization of mobile sports betting, which began here in January 2022, gambling-related calls to OASAS went up 26 percent from 2021 to 2022.

“Research indicates higher rates of gambling problems occur among individuals wagering with a mobile device, enabled by the accessibility, privacy and ease of smartphone use,” the Comptroller’s office says.

According to the report, OASAS spending on problem gambling services has increased by two-thirds since DiNapoli’s November 2020 report on gaming revenues and problem gambling in New York.

  • State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2019-20: About $5.7 million
  • SFY 2022-23: More than $9.6 million

“In SFY 2021-22, one percent of mobile sports wagering (MSW) taxes, or about $1.6 million, was deposited into a sub-fund of the Commercial Gaming Revenue Fund for problem gambling services. For each State fiscal year after that, the problem gambling services sub-fund will receive $6 million in MSW taxes,” the report says.

In all, New York State collected $727.4 million in taxes from mobile sports betting in SFY 2022-23, which is much higher than the projected $357 million. The year prior, the total was $360.7 million after being projected at $99 million. Revenue in the first quarter of the current fiscal year shows signs of growth, too, they say.

“The higher collections were due primarily to the number of licenses issued to mobile sports wagering providers and the higher tax rate imposed subsequent to initial projections,” DiNapoli’s office said.

Mobile sports betting revenues are taxed at a rate of 51 percent in New York, the same as Rhode Island and New Hampshire, and far higher than neighboring states.

Putting all state gaming revenues together, there was a big jump comparing SFY 2011-12 to SFY 2022-23. In the former, $2.8 billion was generated, while that number was $4.8 billion in the latter.

“The increase is primarily from the implementation of new forms of gaming rather than from increased consumption of existing ones,” the report says.

That $4.8 billion represents 3.6 percent of New York’s state operating funds for SFY 2022-23.

Like it did with many different industries, the COVID-19 pandemic had a toll on gaming. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says approximately 3,400 jobs in the gaming industry were lost in 2020, and 2022 employment was nearly 20 percent lower than the pre-pandemic level, according to the Comptroller’s report.

In-person sports wagering at New York’s commercial casinos took a hit with the legalization of mobile sports wagering. The Comptroller’s office says gross gaming revenue from this went down 45 percent in SFY 2022-23.

“With the advent of mobile sports wagering where a person can place a bet from
anywhere in the State, the need to travel to a casino diminishes, as shown in the decline in
revenue from in-person sports betting,” the report says. “With proposals to authorize online casino gaming introduced, economic benefits from the casinos could be eroded as foot traffic potentially declines.”

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.