Evaluating The Empire State: January Q&A With NY Online Sports Betting Operators

Written By Mike Mazzeo on February 8, 2022
Mobile Betting New York

New York is already the No. 1 sports betting market in the country — and it didn’t even take a month.

From Jan. 8-30, the Empire State’s betting apps generated a single-month record $1.6 billion-plus in handle.

PlayNY decided to ask all four operators who have been in business since Day 1 — Caesars, FanDuel, DraftKings and BetRivers — about their respective performances to date, from what they’ve done well to where they could improve.

1. Caesars Sportsbook NY

Quickly grabbing pole position in the New York online sports betting scene, Caesars NY has totaled $615.5 million in handle since going live, good enough for a 38% market share.

But even Chris Holdren, co-president of Caesars, didn’t expect such a strong start.

“We knew that sports fans in New York were passionate, but we didn’t anticipate the state would break the monthly record for sports betting handle in just three weeks’ time. It’s a real testament to the unprecedented excitement behind a launch like this.

“We made it a priority to connect with the New York sports fan through their favorite teams and focused on tailoring our message through NY-specific content. Through our partnerships with Madison Square Garden and MSG Networks, the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, Buffalo Bills, New York Mets and the New York Racing Association, we covered all parts of the state and the importance of that can’t be underestimated.

“Opening weekend brought about massive numbers and we took in more than one million bets within the first 39 hours. Unfortunately, the demand was so great that we didn’t have the flawless performance right out of the gates that we would’ve liked. New Yorkers have shown us this state will operate on an unprecedented scale and we’ve made numerous updates every day since launch to improve the customer experience while also increasing our customer service capacity.”

2. FanDuel Sportsbook NY

Unsurprisingly, FanDuel New York has become a fan favorite in the Empire State. It has kept Caesars in its sites in terms of market share, which equates to about 31% on $501.8 million in accepted wagers.

And like his Caesars counterpart, Kevin Hennessy, director of publicity for FanDuel, expressed nothing but awe regarding New York sports betting’s record-breaking start.

“Legal sports betting in New York has exceeded all of our expectations. Legal Sports betting in New York will one day soon challenge Nevada as the legal sports betting capital of the United States. We are thrilled with how many customers have signed up to the FanDuel Sportsbook. It was the perfect time to launch sports betting. New Yorkers got to experience a Buffalo Bills NFL playoff run and some of the most exciting games in the history of the NFL. Now we have the Winter Olympics, the NHL All-Star Game and the Super Bowl coming up.

“New Yorkers are winning and experiencing our innovative promotions like Spread the Love. Our Spread the Love promotion was a huge success. We saw the largest spread ever for a NBA Game at +222 and the promotion paid out more than $5 million. We also showed that we are a part of the Buffalo community when our CEO Amy Howe (from Buffalo area) announced that FanDuel will donate $52,000 to Oishei Children’s Hospital. The amount represents $13,000 for every touchdown Josh Allen tossed to Gabriel Davis in the instant classic AFC Divisional playoff game.

“We can always do better to deliver a great customer experience through innovation and technology.”

3. DraftKings Sportsbook NY

Johnny Avello always figured New York would quickly establish itself as a sports betting powerhouse market. That said, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings didn’t think the Empire State would make that clear right out of the gate.

In helping the industry soar in its first month, DraftKings NY took in $367.7 million in bets over its first 23 days, equivalent to a 23% market share.

“I knew it would do really well, but I was just surprised by how New York kind of shot right near the top for the total handle on sports. We knew some of those people were going over to New Jersey, so we figured that the people would stay home. But with all that being said, it’s not like Jersey’s handle has gone down dramatically. So I think the surprise for me was just that there were a lot of new users that participated, and certainly we’ve got a long way to go. New York has been outstanding.

“I think our app is the finest and easiest to navigate, so for the user it’s easy. And the content we have up. We probably have more content up than anyone else. So those two things are beneficial to the user because they look for a lot of product, and there it is.

“We’re a huge, nationwide company with many verticals in the online space, so there’s a lot of stuff that we can improve on. There’s everything from customer service to timeliness of our offerings, and it’s just on and on. These are things that we do work on. We talk about them every day to try to get better in all the areas that we need to get better in. We’re human and we make mistakes, and there’s improvement to be made and we know it.”

4. BetRivers Sportsbook NY

New Yorkers no doubt recognize the BetRivers brand, synonymous with Rivers Casino in Schenectady. Yet even with its familiarity, BetRivers didn’t foresee the “overwhelming response,” as COO Mattias Stetz put it, from locals to participate in legal online wagering.

In its first calendar month, BetRivers Sportsbook NY claimed a 2% market share with $32.4 million in handle.

“Not sure if we are surprised, but we are certainly impressed at the overwhelming response from New Yorkers who signed up as soon as BetRivers launched.

“We’ve been able to provide customers with the betting experience they’ve come to expect from BetRivers. Even with the overwhelming response and high volumes, we have been able to ensure that our app and site are continuously available to customers without interruption.

“We are continuing to evaluate the New York market so we can optimize our approach to advertising and bonusing there.”

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Mike Mazzeo

Mike Mazzeo is the Lead Writer for PlayNY, arriving after covering several of New York's professional sports teams in a variety of roles for the past decade. Previously, he served as a beat writer and columnist covering the Brooklyn Nets (ESPN) and New York Yankees (New York Daily News). Mike also covered both the MLB and NBA nationally for Yahoo Sports. In addition, he served as a general assignment reporter for ESPN NewYork.com. He has also had bylines in the New York Times, New York Post, Newsday, Forbes and The Ringer. With PlayNY, Mike brings extensive coverage and unique story angles to what is projected to be one of the biggest and most lucrative online sports betting markets in the country. It's been an arduous and confounding process to get here, but 20 million New Yorkers (many of them die-hards) are now legally able to bet on their favorite sports teams across the state via online and mobile platforms.

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