Gaming Commission Misses RFA Deadline, Putting Launch Timeline In Doubt

Written By Derek Helling on July 7, 2021
Gaming Commission Misses RFA Deadline

The New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) has missed the deadline to issue a request for applications (RFA) for parties interested in offering online sports betting in the Empire State.

Now, the commission is behind the eight ball in its first step toward rolling out mobile betting apps in New York.

Information on why the commission missed the deadline and how long the delay will be is scant right now. If this lag snowballs into further postponements, bettors in New York will no doubt become even more frustrated.

What we know about the missed New York RFA deadline

According to the state’s latest budget law, the NYSGC was supposed to issue the RFA for online sports betting platform providers by July 1. As of this writing, the commission has yet to fulfill that responsibility. It isn’t clear exactly why.

Everything looked like it was coming along swimmingly. The commission had published two separate FAQs, designed to help possible applicants for licenses to act as one of at least two NY mobile sports betting platform providers.

Rumors have circulated that it could be at least two more weeks before the commission puts out the RFA. Sen. Joe Addabbo, one of the most active members of the state legislature on gambling, communicated his dismay at the delay.

“The fact that our state couldn’t meet its initial mobile sports betting deadline to take a positive step towards recognizing additional educational and anti-addiction funding is disappointing. I remain confident that, in the end, New York will have a premier, top-shelf mobile sports betting product to offer its residents, and effectively compete in the market.”

The NYSGC hasn’t responded to multiple requests for explanations for the delay. What’s clear now, however, is that it might have further effects. Getting the RFA out is just the first step in the process.

How the New York wait could continue

Addabbo and others have set Super Bowl LVI as the target launch date for sports betting apps in New York. While that 2022 game is obviously months away, the commission is working with tight margins when it comes to having enough time to actually pull that off.

The law requires the commission to give applicants at least 30 days to respond to the RFA. If the two-week delay proves true, then the RFA is out July 15. That would mean the commission couldn’t start considering applications until Aug. 15.

Further requirements include a 150-day cap on the number of days the commission can use to select applicants. Naturally, the commission could move earlier. In theory, it could make up for the lost time in that way.

However, the situation doesn’t bode well for that scenario. The commission had nearly three months to get the RFA out prior to the July 1 deadline. Missing that deadline did nothing to inspire confidence the commission can act more swiftly in the future.

If the commission does take all 150 days the law affords, that puts decisions out to Jan. 15, 2022. With the Super Bowl scheduled for Feb. 13, it would be nearly impossible for the bidding winners to get their platforms up and running in time for the game. That’s when this delay could really prove costly.

The cost of missing out on Super Bowl LVI

Last year, bettors across the country placed legal wagers totaling around $500 million on Super Bowl LV. New York represented only a small part of that handle due to the current legal landscape. For now, the only legal bets in the state happen at retail sportsbooks inside commercial and tribal casinos.

Meanwhile, online sportsbooks helped neighboring New Jersey and Pennsylvania rake in over $171 million in combined wagers. It isn’t certain exactly how many of those dollars came from the bank accounts of New Yorkers who crossed the borders to bet. However, in January 2020, FanDuel Sportsbook said that 22% of its NJ handle comes from bettors who actually live in the Empire State.

If a conservative 20% of the Super Bowl handle in NJ came from New Yorkers, that means those bettors put down over $23.48 million in bets last year. Assuming some growth because more New Yorkers could be willing to give the new system a go from the comfort of their couches in February 2022, the game could be worth millions more to NY online sportsbooks.

That could mean a huge payday for the state coffers. The commission is likely to choose applicants that offer generous revenue sharing. If the state treasury stands to get a 50% or greater split of the hold, it could be looking at millions of dollars in new revenue on the second Sunday in February alone.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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