Chairman: Bally’s Won’t Launch In NY Until Some Time In April

Written By Mike Mazzeo on January 26, 2022
Bally's Chairman Soo Kim CNBC interview

Bally’s chairman Soo Kim told CNBC the online sports betting operator will not launch in New York until some time in April. It means Bally’s will miss out on both the Feb. 13 Super Bowl and March Madness.

“We’re OK with that,” Kim said of missing out on the biggest day of the sports betting calendar.

During the interview, Kim said operators have mostly geared toward shorter-term goals that satisfy investors at quarterly earnings meetings.

“We have a longer-term plan,” Kim said. “We think that the current version of sports betting is not a great business. It’s a fine business but not a great business.

“We think that there will be a wave of consolidation that will rationalize promotions but more importantly I think people will just stop competing with free money but people will start competing with product.”

Bally’s Delay Not A Surprise

Hedge fund Standard General, also controlled by Kim, seeks to buy Bally’s at $38 a share. But even before the potential takeover news, Bally’s NY Sportsbook seemed destined to be delayed.

During its Q3 earnings call, Bally’s CEO Lee Fenton said the operator planned to release an updated app, which would launch in Arizona before any other state. That still hasn’t happened yet.

Six of the nine operators licensed for NY online sports betting have already launched: DraftKings, FanDuel, Caesars, BetMGM, PointsBet and BetRivers. Still to launch are WynnBet, which is reportedly looking to sell its online sports betting arm, Resorts World and Bally’s.

Kim Critical Of Promo Offers In NY

New York has gotten off to an incredible start with online sports betting. In the first nine days, operators took a combined $603.1 million in bets.

Caesars was No. 1 in market share, due to a massive promotional bonus campaign. But the operator suffered from a host of issues — including app outages, delayed withdrawals and non-existent customer service — which could have players headed elsewhere as a result. Caesars has also stopped its $3,000 match + $300 bonus promo.

With a large population (20 million) and a massive professional sports fan base, NY has shown itself capable of being the No. 1 sports betting market in America. But there are still questions about sustainability as the sports calendar turns and promo offers lessen.

“Look, I think it’s kind of funny, literally without casting aspersions on all of our fellow colleagues in the industry participating. But you could literally open an account with one person, open an account with another person, get your free promotional money and bet separately, bet different ways on the same game and you will win one of them,” Kim said. “I don’t know why everyone’s not doing that.”

Overall of NY, Kim said:

“New York is a really interesting place because there’s only nine licensees, and we’re one of them. And some of the other markets have like 25-30 different (operators). So I think people thought maybe people would be a little bit more reasonable about promotion and advertising in New York because of the fact that there are fewer (operators) and it also has a 51% tax rate which is the highest in the country. (But) this is great for New York. As a New York state citizen, I thought this is great. I mean, it’s insane.”

Photo by CNBC
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Mike Mazzeo

Mike Mazzeo is a contributing writer for PlayNY, reporting on legal sports betting in New York while covering the potential legalization of NY online casinos and poker. He previously wrote for ESPN, the New York Daily News and The Ringer, among others.

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