Rovell: Sports Betting Launched in New York and No One Cared


NYS Gaming Commision Twitter. Pictured: Rivers Casino Sportsbook in Schenectady, NY.

  • New York State took a huge step forward in regards to legalized sports betting on Tuesday.
  • Darrell Rovell explains why it rings hollow without mobile betting on the horizon.

On Tuesday, New York State took its first legal sports bet. And it didn’t even cause a ripple.

It wasn’t because it becoming the 10th state to accept bets made it a “Ho hum, so what?” I mean, it’s New FREAKING York.

It’s because it’s fool’s gold.

The first of four casinos that were allowed to take bets was the Rivers Casino in Schenectady. At best, it’s a 2.5-hour trip from New York City.

Let’s see, do that or take a 20-minute ride to Newark by train, pay $1.95, and bet on my phone?

Let’s see, do I drive to upstate New York or take a 22 minute to Hoboken for $3.50? Heck, even make a drive into Pennsylvania and save an hour.

It’s nice that you can now bet in New York, but with no mobile betting, it’s nothing more than a geographic technicality.

Based on numbers in neighboring New Jersey, which did more than $3 billion in handle in its first year, less than 20% of what comes in is coming from brick-and-mortar sports books. And that’s with retail sportsbooks in rational places like the Meadowlands, Monmouth Park and Atlantic City.

Upstate New York isn’t even that. At full capacity, the four upstate casinos would be lucky to do what New Jersey does in a week — in a month.

In November 2015, there were protests in New York City over the attorney general wanting to shut down daily fantasy sports. There was passion, there was concern.

It says it all that yesterday was a non-event in New York City. There was more action with offshore, in corner bookies and in New Jersey sports books on lunch break than there was in some new sports book upstate.

Put all the shine you want on it. Have comfortable plush chairs and good lines, without mobile, and with hard to get to retail sportsbooks, it won’t make an impact.

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