New York Sports Betting: What Comes Next for Online Bids?
Jim McIsaac / Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Judge
New York officials released six prospective online sportsbook bids Monday, giving a potential glimpse of what could be the most populated state with a competitive digital sports betting market. Here’s what comes next:
The New York State Gaming Commission now considers each bid on a “point system” that evaluates technical expertise, advertising plans, sustainability qualification, integrity measures and a host of other factors. Each applicant’s qualification criteria in these areas are graded on a 75-point scale with 60 the floor for consideration.
Applicants can make “an informational introductory presentation” with the commission beginning Sept. 1. The commission can ask operators follow-up questions.
The commission must announce its selection of applicants considered for bids by Dec. 6. Those reaming selected applicants have one additional week from that point to answer requests for amended applications if necessary.
The gaming commissioners will then formally award the licenses at their meeting following the final bids submission deadlines. That meeting, currently unscheduled, will likely come in mid-to-late December.
New York officials hope the winning sportsbooks can launch ahead of Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13, 2022.
The following groups submitted “platform provider” bids to operate online sportsbooks in New York. Platform providers serve as a sort of base for the following customer-facing brands (sometimes called “skins”) that submitted bids:
- FanDuel, Bally Bet, BetMGM and DraftKings
- Kambi, Caesars, Resorts World, PointsBet, BetRivers and WynnBet
- Kambi, Fanatics Sportsbook and Penn National/Barstool
Multiple New York professional sports teams have also reportedly joined in on certain bids. It remains to be seen in what role, such as in-stadium sportsbooks or sports betting lounges, teams would have in a winning bid.
New York’s 2021 sports betting legislation requires the NYSGC to select two platform providers with at least four brands between them. Hypothetically, this could mean commissioners select the FanDuel and Caesars bids, leading to nine customer-facing sportsbook skins.
Though officials haven’t disclosed any other combinations, prospective platform providers may also join in on other bids. This means the winning platform provider licenses could go to two separate pairs; for example, one to FanDuel and Bally Bet and the other to BetMGM and DraftKings.
It remains to be seen how the solo bids from bet365, FOX Bet or theScore would meet those customer-facing brand requirements. Notably, theScore was acquired by Penn National earlier this month.
The NYSGC did not release prospective bidders’ proposed tax rates, arguably the key factor in determining licensure. Applicants receive 20 extra “points” for agreeing to a 50 percent tax rate on gross gaming revenue and one additional point for each percentage after that; a company that agrees to a 60 percent tax rate, for example, would receive 30 points on top of points they received on the other 75-point checklist.
Additionally, the Kambi and Caesars bids will receive five bonus “points” for associating with existing tribal retail sportsbooks in the state. Caesars partners with Turning Stone Resort Casino and Kambi partners with three New York Seneca casinos.
New York technically legalized retail sportsbooks as part of a voter-approved casino referendum in 2013, before the Supreme Court struck down the federal wagering ban in 2018. The state’s first sportsbooks opened their doors in 2019 but generated a small fraction of the handle from statewide mobile wagering markets in neighboring New Jersey and Pennsylvania as well as growing number of other states.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who championed the 2013 amendment that allowed for four upstate and three downstate casinos, largely resisted online sports betting, dismissing it in interviews as a “rounding error” in the state’s roughly $200 billion annual budget. Facing dwindling revenues and rising costs from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Cuomo unexpectedly embraced mobile sports betting in January 2021.
However, Cuomo opposed a competitive sports betting model similar to New Jersey’s that would have allowed the state’s commercial and tribal casinos to partner with multiple online sports betting brands. He instead backed a government-bid model similar to the system in New Hampshire, arguing it would generate more revenue for the state.
Instead of a traditional government-bid system, New York is undertaking the first such model in the U.S. that guarantees multiple winning bidders. Cuomo and other state officials have expected at least 50 percent in tax revenue from each winning bidder and project $500 million in annual tax revenues at market maturity.
Sen. Joseph Addabbo, who pushed for the competitive model, told The Action Network he thinks Cuomo’s pending resignation will have little impact on the current sports betting system in the near future.
With Cuomo out of office, lawmakers may expedite licensure for the three downstate casinos, which by the original 2013 referendum weren’t allowed to offer full “Las Vegas-style” gaming until seven years after the upstate casinos were up and running. The last of the four opened its doors in 2018.