If you’re looking for one of the biggest years to occur in New York, look no further than this past trip around the sun.
Because when it comes to expanded legal gambling in the Empire State, arguably no year compares with 2022.
Consider the launch of online sports betting in New York plus the authorization of three downstate NY casino licenses, bringing retail casino gaming closer to the major hub of New York City.
While we have much to look forward to in 2023, including the potential legalization of online casinos in New York, we should take a beat and look back at a historic year in New York state history.
NY sports betting, casinos dominate year of gambling news
Before we get into the most-read stories at PlayNY, we need to go over the biggest overall news related to legal gambling in New York.
Online NY sports betting launches
When telling outsiders about 2022 in New York, you can’t do so without mentioning the launch of online NY sports betting in January.
Four sports betting apps went live Jan. 8. What followed that weekend was one of the most massive results you could imagine.
According to GeoComply, a whopping 17.2 million geolocation pings occurred over the first few days of legal online sports betting in New York. That includes over eight million pings in New York City alone — more than any other standalone state total within the US at the time.
On that Saturday alone, the first day of online betting, New Yok totaled 5.8 million pings in a 12-hour span. For perspective, during that same time, Pennsylvania had 2.3 million occurrences.
Since launch, NY sports betting has established itself as the king of legal online sports betting in the US. Over the first 11 reported months, the nine online sportsbooks in New York have combined for nearly $14 billion in handle, leading to over $1.2 billion in NY sports betting revenue.
State authorizes downstate NY casino licenses
Mere months after online sports betting went live in New York, lawmakers in the Empire State expanded legal gambling even more.
In spring, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed off on a budget bill to authorize three downstate casino licenses, allowing retail casino gaming to set up shop in and around New York City.
Six months later, the New York State Gaming Commission finalized the roster for the Gaming Facility Location Board, which will ultimately approve and assign licenses to interested parties.
In fact, and unsurprisingly, plenty of interest has come about. Proposals have emerged from several big-name players.
That includes one from real estate developer Stefan Soloviev, who has enetered into talked with several Las Vegas companies for a casino in the Manhattan area. Wynn has also partnered with Related for a retail spot at Hudson Yards, while Thor Equities looks to set up shop at Coney Island with help from Saratoga Casino Holdings, the Chickasaw Nation and Legends. What’s more, New York Mets owner Steve Cohen has plans to open a casino in the Willes Points area.
The biggest proposal, however, appears to come from SL Green and Caesars for a casino in Times Square.
Only a few spots for licensing exist, of course. And it could be an even narrower window considering that existing VLTs Resorts World NYC and Empire City Casino expect to receive licensing to become full-fledged casinos. We can only wait and see at this point, as the Gaming Facility Location Board will ultimately decide who earns a license in 2023.
Most-read stories at PlayNY in 2022
As detailed above, plenty of noteworthy happenings occurred in 2022. But on a micro level, plenty more took place in New York. These are the top five most-read stories at PlayNY this past year.
Bettors have trouble with Caesars Sportsbook
During the history launch of NY sports betting, Caesars Sportsbook NY quickly established itself as the go-to sportsbook. But plenty of users experienced issues with the app.
That included confusion over bonuses, significant delays in withdrawals and nonexistent customer service. Not to mention a multiple-hour crash during the first day of legal online sports betting.
Caesars has since righted the ship. But at the time, enough outrage occurred that Sen. Joe Addabbo came forward with a statement for Caesars: “Get your act together.”
“You’re in New York. You’re in the sports capital of the world, and you’re acting like you’re in some small town. C’mon. You’re Caesars.”
Caesars Sportsbook Lounges opens at Bills stadium
You’ll sense a pattern coming. This time, it was a positive for Caesars, as the operator opened Caesars Sportsbook Lounge at Highmark Stadium in September.
While no physical betting counters exist, patrons saw plenty of food and beverage and additional seating options at what once was the Business Class Club.
With a capacity of 400, the lounge has all the trappings of a retail sportsbook without the retail betting. But wagering certainly exists with the accessibility of online sportsbooks in New York.
No MVP or awards betting in New York
One thing bettors had to come to terms with quickly was the absence of betting on MVP or other awards in sports.
State regulations prohibit such betting in New York, as rules stipulate that you cannot bet on any award that requires a vote to determine the winner. That includes the MVP, Cy Young and Heisman Trophy, among other popular markets in other jurisdictions.
Regulators chalk it up to an integrity issue. In their views, voters could conceivably collude to determine the winner.
Hard Rock email surfaces asking for donations for Gov. Hochul
In June, a bit of troubling news emerged after a Hard Rock executive sent an email to customers, clients and contacts asking for donations to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s campaign.
This came shortly after the authorization of downstate casino licenses and with Hard Rock expressing interest in one of those licenses.
An industry source told PlayNY at the time that asking for a political campaign donation directly tied to a specifically stated casino project is highly unusual practice.
In a statement to the New York Post, Hard Rock noted that guests at a fundraising event were invited with no reference to a casino or casino licensing process. The company launched an internal investigation regarding the email.
Resorts World Hudson Valley targets 2022 opening of casino
As 2022 began to hit the home stretch, a new casino began targeting an opening date as Resorts World Hudson Valley aimed for a late-2022 debut for its casino at Newburgh Mall.
Housed in the former Bon-Ton Department store building about 60 miles north of Manhattan, the facility features 1,200 electronic slots and table games.
The casino ultimately opened with just days left in the year, featuring 50,000 square feet of gaming and a Reosrts World Bet Sports Bar.
“Resorts World Hudson Valley represents a shared vision that we, along with our partners in Orange County, had to create an entertainment destination that will attract hundreds of thousands of guests and visitors,” Robert DeSalvio, president of Genting Americas East, said in a press release, “while providing tremendous benefits to the local, regional and statewide community.”
Can 2023 top what we saw this year in New York?
A historic year comes to a close in New York. But there could be a chance that 2023 might be even bigger.
For starters, Addabbo expects to introduce legislation to legalize online casinos in New York. However, even supporters believe getting it across the finish line is a daunting challenged.
In fact, 2024 may be more likely.
But it’s difficult to ignore what could come from NY online casinos. Estimates show that iGaming in New York could generate $428 million in tax revenue stemming from $2.1 billion in gross gaming revenue at a 20% tax rate.
As for online sports betting in New York, projections indicate that betting apps could generate nearly $14 billion in handle, tops among all US jurisdictions. That could lead to some $1.04 billion in gross gaming revenue and $530 million in state tax revenue.