It has become pretty widely known to those inside and outside of the gaming industry that the state of New York is missing out in a huge way by not allowing mobile sports betting. If you aren't aware, you can just Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. and he'll tell you all about it.
Addabbo, a Democrat from Queens, spoke matter-of-factly at the Sports Betting USA Conference on November 5, making it clear the Empire State is dragging its feet while states like New Jersey are prospering and the costs of such inaction are high.
He made reference to an old comparison he became used to making when discussing New York and legal gaming. One where he equates New York state to a "disabled car on the side of the road, not moving at all," while other vehicles (states) whiz by.
"How long can we sit back and watch revenue go to these other states?" Addabbo asked rhetorically.
Is Sports Betting Legal In New York?
Sports betting is and has been legal in New York, just not in its fullest form for the state to cut its piece of the pie from this booming industry. In fact, this state should actually be ahead of the game rather than behind.
Legislation passed in 2013 to allow sports betting at commercial casinos if and when the Supreme Court cleared the way, which happened in May 2018 when PASPA was repealed.
Addabbo conceded that the state is no longer just a sidelined passenger in the sports betting industry due to recent action. In January 2019, the New York Gaming Commission completed regulations to allow some form of legal sports betting in the state. In July, tribal casinos and four commercial brick-and-mortar locations were permitted to finally launch sports betting operations.
The only issue is, this does not affect or erase the state's ban on mobile sports wagering. The measure passed in 2013 is limited to in-person wagering at four somewhat remote upstate locations, so it only serves as a small victory all this time later, when the industry dynamic has shifted.
"We're at least in the right lane. We're in the traffic," Addabbo explained, expanding on his analogy. "Still, cars are passing by us in the left lane."
Addabbo recently sponsored legislation to introduce mobile gaming to the Empire State, but to no avail. In June, Bill S17D to allow mobile sports betting in New York passed by an overwhelming 57-5 margin on the senate floor but stalled due to what Governor Andrew Cuomo cites as constitutional concerns.
Addabbo and several others including state Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, who championed the bill as well, hope that 2020 will be the year the state can finally hit the gas on New York mobile sports betting.
NJ Online Sports Betting Revenue Is Through The Roof
Because it does not legally include mobile betting, New York state is losing out on an incredible amount of revenue, although that hasn't robbed the senator of his sense of humor.
"We do have [mobile] sports betting in our state. The problem is, it's illegal. Our bookies do very well," the Senator jokingly quipped.
One of the aforementioned cars passing by New York represents New Jersey, which has seemingly developed the blueprint many that new states entering the market are attempting to follow. With a full year-and-a-half under its belt, the Garden State is the premier example of the potential for mobile sports betting.
After generating over $50 million in revenue in the second half of 2018, it has raked in nearly $200 million in 2019 alone with two months of numbers left to record, according to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. October 2019 was a record-setting month for the Garden State, which saw nearly $500 million in total sports betting handle with more than 80 percent coming from mobile.
Addabbo serves as the chairman of the NYS Senate Standing Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, which held a hearing in May 2019 to discuss gaming in New York.
According to testimony from geolocation compliance technology giant GeoComply, about 25 percent of the revenue pouring into New Jersey from sports betting actually comes from residents of New York state. After all, it is less than five miles from the heart of Manhattan to the border of New Jersey, and even less distance from other parts of the city.
The senator refused to get speculative about exact revenue figures for New York, but if you do the math, the Empire State could have made about $50 million in this year alone had it been prepared to offer a mobile gaming option.
Compare those numbers to the $2.3 million figure that New York has been unable to surpass with commercial sports betting only, and you can see why Addabbo and other proponents like Pretlow are hoping 2020 is the year something changes.
What Can New York Mobile Sports Betting Do For The State?
Addabbo's bill wasn't signed into law but it's a move in the right direction and it's also a way to cut into the roughly $3 billion deficit that exists going into an election year in 2020. Rather than raising taxes on citizens, the state has an opportunity to generate revenue in a new way.
On top of helping with the overall deficit, mobile sports betting in New York would do wonders for things like job growth and education.
A vast majority, 80 percent in fact, of funds generated from commercial gaming are given to educational programs in the state. Addabbo pointed out that gaming produced $3 billion in the last fiscal year to education, with New York City seeing around $1 billion of that money. That total rises exponentially if a percentage of mobile revenues went that direction.
"How long can we lose educational funding? How can we sit back and watch our job growth not be there?" Addabbo, again rhetorically, asked the conference delegates. "I think the time has come...In New York State we can change that. And I'm hoping that 2020 is the year we can change that."
While NY may not be completely turning its back entirely on mobile sports betting, it's certainly taking its sweet time and paying a pretty hefty price for doing so. Senator Addabbo is among those trying to ensure the wait doesn't last too much longer.