For three years, we’ve seen New York make history.
We were there in 2021 when lawmakers finally issued the green light for online sports betting in New York. We were there in 2022 when Gov. Kathy Hochul signed off on issuing licenses for three downstate casinos in the Empire State. And we saw that process begin in early 2023 with a request for applications, followed over the next few months by a dozen bidders entering the picture with pitches and renderings for their development visions.
History could – and likely should – continue in 2024. Especially with the potential legalization of NY online casinos on the table.
Waiting for lawmakers to legalize NY online casinos
All signs point to 2024 becoming the year New York legalizes online casinos.
Neighboring New Jersey just celebrated 10 years of online casino gaming, a decade in which many New Yorkers crossing the George Washington Bridge and contributing to the Garden State’s bottom line of over $1 billion in state tax revenue.
Nearby Pennsylvania nears five years of iGaming. And not far away, both Delaware and Connecticut feature online casinos with Rhode Island on the way this year.
Sen. Joe Addabbo, the driving force behind online gambling expansion in New York, called it “problematic” to see other states legalize online casinos while New York stands pat.
“As more states do it and other states like New York get surrounded, you have to do it,” Addabbo told PlayNY in November.
“I’ve always said in New York, for iGaming, it’s not a question of if but when. It has to happen. How long do you sit back and watch a billion dollars leave the state every year? How much can you take that?”
Then factor in the priority list Addabbo and his colleagues also faced before getting to NY online casinos: online sports betting, check; downstate casino licensing, check; next up, online casinos.
It also doesn’t hurt that New York faces a $4.3 billion budget deficit this year. All the more reason why 2024 is the year the state legalizes online casinos.
Downstate NY casino licensing could finally happen
A year has passed since the Gaming Facility Location Board issued the request for applications for downstate casino licensing. Since then, we have only seen one round of questions and answers from regulators. We await one more before the GFLB officially opens the application process.
Ideally, that would occur within the first quarter of 2024, with potential licensing before the year ends. According to the GFLB, the return date for applications will be 30 days after the second round of answers. It’s been just over four months since the first responses came out, which were released nearly seven months after the first questions were submitted.
Theoretically, we’re due to see the second round (hopefully) within the next few weeks. Then the application, review and vetting process can begin for an industry that some believe could outshine Las Vegas.
Now, B Global Advisors founder Brendan Bussmann reported for Truist Securities that “one has to wonder how long the second phase of this initial stage will take, let alone the subsequent stages that arguably are more challenging and daunting over several multi-billion projects.”
The analyst indicated that the already-delayed and lengthy process of answering questions could be cause for concern about the timeline for licensing. In fact, he warned, it may not be until 2025 that state officials finally issue licenses.
NY sports betting resets records (again)
Just how high can online sports betting get in New York? Sportsbooks are testing that question as we speak.
The mobile industry came storming out of the gate in January 2022 en route to record-breaking year. You know what NY sportsbooks did in 2023? They went ahead and reset the high-water mark.
In just 11 months.
In theory, at some point, the NY sports betting industry must regress. Or plateau at the very least. But when?
From 2022 to 2023, through November, online sportsbooks in New York collectively saw year-over-year monthly increases in handle, gross gaming revenue and state tax revenue in 10 of 11 months. Could that trend continue into 2024?
Let’s say it does, following the same YoY increases from Year 1 to Year 2. Consider how big NY sports betting could get in 2024:
|*Through Dec. 24
By no means is that a prediction. It’s barely a projection. But we should not be surprised to see NY sportsbooks hit $20 billion in handle in 2024.