As Sports Betting Grows Around The Nation, New York Seems Left Out

Posted on November 15, 2019 - Last Updated on January 15, 2020

As revenue reports arrive for the month of October from states with legal sports betting, there is a common theme. In almost every state, handle was up compared to September. New York sports betting revenue seems to be the exception to that rule, however.

The state’s four upstate commercial casinos took in over $2.23 million in win during October. That’s a minor drop of about 2.2% from September, but the fact that there was a drop at all is interesting.

Breaking down the New York sports betting revenue

All the momentum that New York sportsbooks gained in September seems to have calmed. September’s $2.28 million in revenue was more than double that of August.

The onset of the college football and NFL seasons is the likely reason behind that increase. With that “honeymoon phase” in the rearview mirror now, the numbers for October could be more of an accurate assessment of the demand in the Empire State.

Two of the four brick-and-mortar sportsbooks did see net gains from the previous month. The decline in numbers at the other two were enough to override those gains, however.

CasinoOctober revenueSeptember revenueChange
del Lago$572,410$836,929-31.7%
Resorts World Catskills$506,380$381,210+32.8%
Rivers$1,001,741$903,892+10.8%
Tioga Downs$152,696$161,834-5.7%

At all four facilities, sports betting revenue remains just a small part of their business. For example, Rivers took in over $10.04 million from slots and $3.29 million from table games during October.

While a sportsbook clearing a million dollars in bets during a month is significant for the New York legal sports betting industry, it’s important to put the numbers in context. Compared to other markets, the Empire State lags behind.

October sports betting numbers around the country

Other states with smaller populations and fewer sports teams within their borders greatly outperformed New York last month. That includes Indiana and Iowa.

Indiana sportsbooks took in nearly $92 million in bets during October. Iowa, with an even smaller population and no franchises in the four most popular professional sports leagues, saw $46.5 million in bets placed at its legal sportsbooks.

What’s even more telling is that Iowa has a pretty limited online sportsbook landscape. New bettors have to register in person before placing mobile bets, and most of the operators in the state don’t offer online wagering yet.

That points to the big issue for New York sports betting. Until it is addressed, handle and therefore revenue may continually lag behind other states’ performances.

Why New York is its own worst enemy in this regard

Until the state changes the law to allow online betting, the Empire State simply won’t compete with its neighbors like New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It also won’t compete with states that have smaller populations or those with fewer pro sports teams.

Unfortunately for everyone involved, it appears this glaring impediment won’t change anytime soon. The current political landscape is filled with obstacles, and the casinos are likely to object to losing their monopoly on sports betting in the state.

The Legislature may take some action on the matter in the next session, but there are doubts about how successful such an attempt would be. Without a new law, New York’s potential in the sports betting industry will remain largely untapped.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. 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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