Just a few days remain in 2021. At long last, we’re about to kick to the curb one of the most tumultuous years in recent memory.
That said, for New York, the year was one for the ages. After all, at long last, lawmakers in the Empire State finally legalized online sports betting. And within the next few weeks, nine NY betting apps should grace the landscape in time for the Super Bowl.
So as the calendar turns to 2022, here’s a comprehensive Q&A at where New York stands in terms of online sports betting launch, which is expected in January during the NFL playoffs.
Is there an exact start date yet for NY online sports betting?
Unfortunately, no. But it would be a surprising disappointment if it isn’t some time in mid-to-late January.
Sen. Joe Addabbo last week confirmed to PlayNY that the hope is for New York online sports betting to launch during the second or third week of January.
The wild card round gets underway Jan. 15, followed by the divisional round a week later and conference championship games taking place Jan. 30.
“It looks like we’re still on track for January-start of the NFL playoffs, and that’s well ahead of the Super Bowl,” Addabbo said. “And I’m sticking with that.”
Having NY betting apps live ahead of Feb. 13, in time for Super Bowl betting, would allow for any potential kinks to be worked out. The Super Bowl is a significant benchmark for the state in terms of how it performs during the biggest sports betting date of the year. There is significant pressure for that to happen.
“It would be a black eye if they weren’t open for the Super Bowl,” one industry source with knowledge of the process told PlayNY. “That would be a nightmare scenario for them.”
State Assemblyman Gary Pretlow had said his expectation was a late, end-of-January launch.
Either way, the operators, policymakers and New York State Gaming Commission all want — and really, need — a January launch to happen.
“The gaming commission knows the timeframe,” Addabbo said. “(Executive Director) Rob Williams is quite professional. He’s been around. They know what’s at stake.”
Are all NY betting apps going to launch on the same day?
In a perfect world, yes. But more likely, probably not.
There is going to be a single start date for operators, set by the NYSGC, but some may not be ready for it. That means the individual competitors won’t necessarily be vying for rush to market.
“Yes, there will be a same-day launch, but not everybody will be able to launch that day. And that’s ok,” Addabbo said. “If somebody is slow to get ready, that’s unfortunate. But for those that are ready to go, a single start date would be more appropriate, and I think that’s what the gaming commission is looking to do.”
Where is the server process at?
Negotiations between online sportsbooks and casinos on servers have been completed.
It is Addabbo’s understanding that servers are in the process of being installed. All nine operators must have their servers installed on the properties of one of the four upstate commercial casinos in NY.
Once the installation process is completed, servers must be tested and approved by state regulators prior to launch.
How do NY online sportsbooks feel about everything going on?
Soo Kim, chairman of Bally’s, said the 51% tax rate all nine operators — FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, Bally’s, Caesars, PointsBet, WynnBet, BetRivers and Resorts World — face is “quite daunting.”
“I think if anything the opportunity that will come for all the operators will mean all the operators will have to be more disciplined and clever about how we acquire and retain customers. In a high-tax jurisdiction, you can’t get away with certain behavior, like over promotion and over advertising, because the lifetime value of your customer is going to be lower,” Kim told SBC Americas after its North American Summit in New Jersey.
Kim also mentioned that customers can go to neighboring states — New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania — if the betting lines and promos are better.
“The whole point of this exercise is for the state and the operators in the state to keep those revenues in New York, and I think that is going to be the greatest challenge,” he said.
What about state policymakers?
Pretlow has made no secret of his disdain for the process.
He and fellow policymakers wanted an open competition, complete with a lower tax rate model closer to New Jersey’s. But former Gov. Andrew Cuomo wanted no part of that. Hence the closed competition, 51% tax rate model, similar to New Hampshire.
“I personally don’t think it’s gonna work well,” Pretlow said. “But we’re going to try to make it work.”
Pretlow has said he wants to make sure that operators can’t try to change the tax rate like the casinos did (from 37% to 30%).
“I’ve been experiencing this whole bait-and-switch for too long, and I’m tired of it,” Pretlow said. “I always say, if you make your bed, you lie in it.”
Pretlow also said he’d be opposed to subtracting free play from the 51% tax rate.
“I would love for promotional play, but not out of our money, no,” he said. “And that’s another reason why I want to make sure they maintain the 51%. If you sign that deal, then don’t come around and say now we have to give free play. So reduce our 51% down to 43% or whatever number they come up with.”