New York Sees Unprecedented Activity In First Weekend Of Mobile Sports Betting

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Mobile sports betting in New York saw activity unprecedented by any new U.S. market since the Supreme Court overturned PASPA in 2018. In its first 12 hours after the industry launched in the state Saturday, Jan. 8, New York saw about 2.5 times the sportsbook transactions that New Jersey and Pennsylvania did over that same 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET window, according to Lindsay Slader, Managing Director of Gaming at GeoComply.   

While sportsbook operators welcome the opportunity New York presents, this level of activity on day one was eye-opening.

Here’s how New York’s first weekend of mobile sports betting went and what to expect as the industry moves forward in the state.

Why New York Sports Betting Grew So Fast So Soon 

There was more sports betting activity in the first few days in New York than for the launch of any market in the country’s short history of legal sports betting. New Yorkers made over 17 million transactions in the first full weekend.

“I posted a number on Saturday night that said that the transactions that our systems processed were 5.8 million,” Slader told Gaming Today. “By the end of [Chargers vs. Raiders on Sunday Night Football], it was just over 17 million.”

There are several reasons for the high volume of wagering.

“Those people in New York are passionate about sports,” Johnny Avello, DraftKings’ Director of Race & Sportsbook Operations, told Gaming Today on Monday. “Those guys are savvy bettors. A lot of them have bet before. It’s a big area — 20 million people. Two-thirds of the people are in a metropolitan area. There’s a lot of factors.” 

New York’s long wait for mobile sports betting contributed to the early explosion of betting activity. Many New Yorkers have been betting for years with neighborhood bookies or offshore books or, since 2018, crossing the New Jersey border to bet in that state. The are also four upstate casinos that have been offering sports betting.

New York’s financial sector is also a likely source of lucrative sports betting activity. 

“Getting to know my customers when I worked in brick-and-mortar locations in Las Vegas, I know I had a lot of customers that were financial people,” Avello said. “They kind of go hand-in-hand. It’s is all about numbers and calculations and algorithms, so they tie into one another. And sports is quite exciting to do all of that work on.” 

The large welcome bonuses couldn’t have hurt, either. Caesars Sportsbook offers a $3,000 first deposit match and a $300 registration bonus. DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetRivers offer large welcome bonuses, too. 

So a large population of experienced sports bettors was presented with large welcome bonuses for a service they’d been waiting years for. 

No wonder New Yorkers dove into sports betting so enthusiastically.

What New Yorkers Bet On Over The Weekend

During their first weekend, New York bettors had clear preferences for certain games, some which mirrored national sentiment among gamblers. Avello cited the three most popular games by betting handle in New York: 

  • Chargers at Raiders on Sunday Night Football 
  • Jets at Bills 
  • Georgia vs. Alabama in Monday night’s CFP National Championship

“The Chargers/Raiders game was the biggest on our [national] network,” Avello said. “That game [Sunday] night had a tremendous handle — one of the biggest writes of the entire year for regular season football.”

Avello has also said Georgia-Alabama was on pace to be the biggest-bet college football game ever

So, New York picked an opportune weekend to launch sports betting.

Next Steps For New York Sports Betting

New York has established itself as a promising market for sportsbook operators who managed to secure sports betting licenses. Now that mobile sports betting is available in New York, here are three long-term trends to watch for in the sports betting market.  

Bettor Behavioral Changes 

New York bettors’ behavior may change. Rather than having to set aside time to commute to New Jersey, New York residents can now wager from home. Also, New Jerseyans who commute to the City will likely show new betting patterns. 

“So, if you live in New Jersey and you work in Manhattan, what time of day are you placing your bet during your commute?” Slader said. “Maybe that now switches to the middle of your day at lunchtime. Maybe there are some comparisons happening between the products on offer on either side of the border. How does brand loyalty play into that? It’ll all be really fascinating to see that unfold.” 

Some analysts believe New York going live will negatively impact the sports betting handle in New Jersey.

Fewer Bonuses In New York In The Long Run  

New York’s competitive bonuses could evaporate over time. New York’s 51% tax rate on sports betting revenue may threaten the viability of large ongoing bonus offers as the market matures. 

“At some point, it could keep us from giving all the same offers we give in [other markets] because the profit margin is so much less,” Avello said. 

New York’s population of 20 million people and the large volume of wagers being transacted could make up for the high tax rate sportsbooks have to pay. But that tax rate could impact New York sportsbooks’ long-term strategies. After the initial flurry of welcome bonuses, New Yorkers could see fewer bonuses than surrounding markets. 

“We’ll have to work hard to make our share of it [New York’s market],” Avello said. 

So far, though, there is no indication that operators will change odds for New Yorkers or charge customers higher vig on losing bets.

“We’re not [changing] vig or anything like that,” Avello said. “We’re giving everybody the same deals, the same odds that we give in all our other jurisdictions.”

Fast Market Maturity 

New York’s first mobile sports betting weekend showed how quickly its market can grow. It’s also an early sign that the New York market could mature faster than surrounding markets. But market maturity doesn’t mean growth will stop. Growth will slow to a lower, steadier rate.

“I don’t think it’ll just mature quickly and then end,” Avello said. “There’s always going to be others that are continuously going to sign on to the app. So there’ll be plenty of new users.”    

Based on the market response this weekend, there will be no shortage of enthusiastic bettors to wager at New York’s mobile sportsbooks. New York sports betting has a bright future, despite the potential challenges New York’s regulations pose.

About the Author

Christopher Gerlacher

Christopher Gerlacher is a senior author and contributor for Gaming Today. He's a devout Broncos fan, for better or for worse, living in the foothills of Arvada, Colorado.

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