‘Optimism Wanes’ On Gaming Issues As New York Post-Budget Session Draws Closer To End

Written By Mike Mazzeo on May 19, 2022 - Last Updated on May 27, 2022
New York Sports Betting NY Online Casino Legal Expansion June 2

With just two weeks remaining in New York’s post-budget state legislative session, there isn’t much traction on the gaming front. 

So it may only be the three accelerated downstate NY casino licenses — still a nice accomplishment for local policymakers — for this fiscal year. The session ends on June 2.  

“I’ll never stop talking about it and trying to see what’s capable of being done,” Sen. Joe Addabbo said. “But my optimism wanes with every day that passes. I’ll keep trying to the last day, but we’ll see.” 

Addabbo has been hoping to get fixed-odds horse racing on all New York sports betting apps. But it may just be TVG (FanDuel) and NYRA Bets (Caesars), among others, for the time being.  

“This is Albany, so anything can happen,” Addabbo said. “But the bottom line is there’s still a lot of work to do with regards to fixed-odds, kiosks, incorporating NASCAR, the NFL draft, there’s still things we have to iron out.

“Our work is really never done when we talk about expanding in a safe, regulated way for gaming in New York.” 

What legal NY gambling has now 

No doubt, NY online sports betting has provided a financial boon to the state.

For the week ending May 8, online sportsbooks in New York had a bounce-back week, producing $331.7 million in handle and generating $37 million in total gross gaming revenue (GGR). That stands as the highest weekly GGR since Jan. 23 ($43.2 million). So it seems like New Yorkers are enjoying betting on the NBA and NHL playoffs. 

Nevertheless, despite combining for more than $6 billion in handle and over $460 million in GGR (which has led to $235.7 million in tax revenue), multiple NY sportsbook executives have complained about the state’s 51% tax rate. 

Lobbying and legislative efforts to reduce the rate as a result of increasing the number of operators proved unsuccessful in this budget session. Short-term gain versus long-term sustainability will remain a talking point moving forward. Of course, operators knew what they were signing up for, so the state may be content to keep things the way they are. 

Gambling expansion to come in New York

The downstate casino licensing process is still very much in the early stages. After all, the New York State Gaming Commission has until Oct. 6 to select a gaming facility location board. And given that it’s an election year, it’s uncertain whether the process could be expedited.  

Existing video lottery terminals Resorts World NYC (Queens) and MGM Empire City (Yonkers) appear as frontrunners to become full-scale casinos. Major players like Las Vegas Sands, Hard Rock, Bally’s and Wynn are all interested in the possibility of coming into the lucrative NYC casino market. 

Read More: Challenges Aplenty: Where Could Third Downstate New York Casino License Go?

Where that third license will end up — assuming Resorts World and MGM emerge from the competitive bidding process — remains a question. Mayor Eric Adams wants to see two of the three in the NYC area. Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn, among others, will all face community opposition and need to get through zoning regulations. But New York does have a leg up on New Jersey for once. 

Could there be a Barstool in New York?

Down the road, as previously mentioned, both the tax rate and number of NY sports betting operators could be subject to change. Will operators like Fanatics, Penn National/Barstool Sports and Bet365 get another shot at joining the NY market? Preferably — at least for them — at less than 51%? 

Addabbo would like NY online casino gaming to be the featured item for next fiscal year’s NYS budget. And even if it doesn’t pass this year, state policymakers could look to circle back on adding fixed-odds horse racing and NASCAR to the NY online sportsbook apps. In addition, Addabbo has said he’d like to increase the number of daily fantasy sports operators. 

Sports betting kiosks at arenas, stadiums and racetracks in the state would also be a nice addition for those who don’t want to bet on their phones and prefer having a ticket printed. Branded sportsbook lounges at Yankee Stadium (DraftKings) and Citi Field (Caesars) are fine. But it would be better if fans could congregate and bet at them. 

New York bettors would also like the ability to wager on player award futures and events like the NFL draft. Addabbo has sounded open to that possibility down the road. 

Again, having a more expanded menu will — at least in some cases — keep NY bettors away from neighboring states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania and also the unregulated offshore sportsbooks and bookies. 

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Mike Mazzeo

Mike Mazzeo is a contributing writer for PlayNY, reporting on legal sports betting in New York while covering the potential legalization of NY online casinos and poker. He previously wrote for ESPN, the New York Daily News and The Ringer, among others.

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