A larger sample size is needed to really get a sense of how retail sportsbooks in New York have been impacted since the Jan. 8 launch of legalized online sports betting in the state. Still, following the first month’s reports, it could be worse, according to one upstate casino owner.
“It’s hard to say. Not terrible,” Jeff Gural, who owns Tioga Downs Casino and runs the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, NJ, told PlayNY.
“It would appear that our best customers still prefer to come from New York to bet at the Meadowlands as opposed to betting online in New York. There’s a certain appeal of being with other people (at a retail sportsbook) and being able to bet with a. teller. But so far, it hasn’t been terrible.”
Here’s a look at the January sports betting handle at New York’s retail sportsbooks:
|Casino||Handle||Gross Gaming Revenue|
Has NY online sports betting affected retail sportsbooks?
It’s difficult to make any significant comparisons as the New York State Gaming Commission only just began reporting sports betting handle at retail sportsbooks in April 2021.
Of course, it’s also worth noting that online sports betting in New York counted $1.67 billion (over a 24-day period) toward the state’s US-record total of $1.69 billion in handle for January.
Yet, at the same time, it’s unclear how much of that $1.67 billion comes from promotional (free money) spend. There’s no doubt New York is off to a great start. But the question remains over whether online sportsbook operators in the state will be able to become profitable long-term while facing a 51% tax rate — and not being allowed to deduct promotional spend, which Gural called, “crazy” (others have, too).
“Retail sportsbooks will be fine. Online, they’re giving away so much money,” Gural said. “I don’t know what happens when they stop. I think it’s too early to tell. I have to believe that everybody (online operators) is losing a fortune in New York. So the question is how long can they do that without either merging or asking for tax reductions.”
Rick Richards said Rivers Casino has not seen mobile betting having “much of a negative impact” on its retail sportsbook. Quite the contrary, according to the Rivers general manager.
“We’re still seeing excellent foot traffic at Rivers, as our luxury sportsbook lounge is an important and unique amenity that provides an atmosphere for guests to experience all the excitement of a live sporting event with all the comforts and conveniences of a casino setting,” Richards told PlayNY. “Guests enjoy placing bets in person at our 24-7 self-betting kiosks, or one of our betting windows, where they can get instant guidance and support from one of our team members.”
Could New York add downstate casinos soon?
It’s possible that more retail sportsbooks enter the New York sphere. State policymakers are trying to expedite licenses for three downstate casinos. Two of the leading contenders are existing video lottery terminals Empire City-BetMGM and Resorts World NYC. If granted full casino licenses, both could add retail sportsbooks to their properties.
And New York’s sports teams could add arena/stadium retail sportsbooks as well. Sen. Joe Addabbo and State Assemblyman Gary Pretlow have introduced matching bills that would allow kiosks to be placed at arenas, stadiums and racetracks in the state.
Gural explained why some — regardless of age — want to wager at retail sportsbooks (Tioga Downs and the Meadowlands have FanDuel-branded sportsbooks) as opposed to their betting apps.
“I think it’s more people like the idea of being able, if they win, to get cash right away,” Gural said. “I think that’s part of it, that mentality of having a good (NFL) Sunday and then you can walk out of there with the money.”
Retail sportsbooks have been so anemic in New York that they could even have an increase over time. Three of the four commercial casinos just saw their lowest gross gaming revenue totals since July or August 2019. (Rivers had its lowest GGR since February 2020.)
But, as previously mentioned, it’s really too early to draw any concrete conclusions.
“It’s surprising that it seems to be holding up,” Gural said. “It looks like there’s tremendous growth in this business. But it’s not terrible.”