Rovell: New York’s Asinine Mobile Sports Betting Ban Is Costing the State Millions Every Month

Credit:

New York State Dept.

Nov 15, 2019, 01:21 PM EST

As New Jersey enjoyed a record monthly sports betting handle in October, New York State senator Joe Addabbo could only shake his head.

New Jersey’s nearly $490 million in bets generated $46.4 million for the Garden State in October. Meanwhile, Addabbo saw his state’s gross sports betting revenue decline by more than 4% to $2.2 million on the month.

In 2013, New York State passed an amendment that provided that four upstate casinos, and three future locations, would be able to operate sportsbooks. But when the four opened this summer, there was no mobile betting allowed in the state.

Addabbo is perplexed.

“When we made the amendment in 2013, and I was there, we were deciding what gaming would be permitted, not trying to limit the gaming,” he said.

Addabbo said that, at the time, it would have been impossible to see how much mobile betting would take over. In states with mobile betting, at least 75% of the money is bet on the phone.

While Addabbo has screamed data points for months, but New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who shut down the quest for mobile sports betting in the state saying it was unconstitutional, has said very little.

Addabbo says that that’s bunk.

“I have eight legal briefs in my office from completely unattached lawyers who said the we would do it would absolutely be constitutional,” he said.

Addabbo said the idea is to put the servers at the four sportsbooks who currently do take mobile bets and the issue over where the mobile betting is technically being executed is solved.

“It’s just like New Jersey, who have their servers in Atlantic City and racetracks,” Addabbo said.

Addabbo calculated that, last month alone, New York left $9 million on the table just from what was lost to New Jersey. Geocomply, a Geofencing company, has said that roughly 25% of New Jersey’s mobile customers are actually New York residents, crossing the border to make bets. FanDuel, which operates in New Jersey, later confirmed that number.

A recent Esquire article described the KFC in Fort Lee, NJ as a new hot betting spot, just over the George Washington Bridge from New York.

New Jersey operators have taken advantage of the opportunity, advertising on buses and trains that go in and out of New Jersey and New York on the way out of New York and into New Jersey those who go through the Lincoln Tunnel are immediately greeted with billboards that promote at least three sportsbooks.

Ask any New Yorker about the current state of the MTA, the state’s public transit department, and they will have a laundry list of complaints at the ready. The MTA desperately needs money and there are plenty of sportsbooks who are willing to spend a lot of dough to advertise.

Sector analyst Eilers & Krejcik told NYUpstate.com that, as of now, New York is realizing just 5% of its full potential with sports betting.

And while Addabbo has mounted a stealth public relations campaign, the truth is only one man matters.

“He originally opposed marijuana and changed his mind,” Addabbo said. “He originally opposed paid family leave and he changed his mind. We hope he’ll change his mind on mobile sports betting. But if he keeps thinking this can only be changed through an amendment, it might be three years until we get it on the ballot for the public to vote on.”

Meanwhile, the New York State Gaming Commission has agreed to fund a study to look at the current state of affairs. The target release date is in April, Addabbo said.

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