The New York State Gaming Commission finally chose a dance partner.
The commission tabbed Spectrum Gaming Group to conduct a comprehensive gaming market study that could highlight the need for mobile sports betting in the state. Pending approval by the state comptroller, Spectrum is set to begin the study Dec. 1.
New York Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr., who is pushing for legislation in the state to expand sports betting to mobile apps and racetracks, praised the selection as “better late than never.”
“We’ve got the green light; start your engines,” Addabbo said. “I look forward to the first draft in April. Let’s hope it’s useful.”
Spectrum brings decades of experience to study
Spectrum Gaming Group is a market research company headquartered in Pennsylvania that pledges to provide unbiased, credible projections and estimates for gaming projects and markets around the world. It has provided independent research and professional services to public- and private-sector clients since 1993.
“Spectrum is honored to be selected by the New York State Gaming Commission to conduct a fair, thorough and independent study of gaming in New York per the tasks outlined in the request for proposal,” said Joe Weinert, executive vice president of Spectrum Gaming Group.
Over the past year, Spectrum has done comprehensive gaming industry analysis for Louisiana, as well as analysis of the landscape for legal sports betting in Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.
“I do know that Spectrum does have experience doing gaming studies for other states, so they are familiar with the industry,” Addabbo said. “I’m hoping Spectrum does a phenomenal job with this study but, no matter, who the entity is, it all depends on the data they get.”
Data most important factor for conducting study
Addabbo has been cautiously optimistic about the gaming study since it was announced in July.
He thinks it could be a tool to counter Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s doubts on the fiscal impact of mobile sports betting in New York, but only if it’s done right.
Addabbo expressed that he’s asked every industry stakeholder he’s been in contact with since the announcement of the study to cooperate with the NYSGC and the company conducting the study to provide accurate data.
“I think the outreach is going to be important. We need a cooperative effort, a fluid flow of data. I’ve seen plenty of studies. Studies are only as good as the data they use. The more accurate data Spectrum has, the more accurate the report will be. The industry working with Spectrum is a big deal here.”
Scope of NY gaming study
The request for proposal issued by the NYSGC instructs that the NY sports betting study provides an analysis of the potential market and impacts for:
- Sports wagering only at commercial casinos
- Sports wagering expanded to video lottery gaming and off-track betting (OTB) facilities
- Online sports wagering
The RFP adds a note specifying that the report “shall clearly indicate these analyses presume that a constitutional amendment has passed authorizing such activity.”
Addabbo also would like to see the study eventually lead to:
- Putting lottery offerings online
- Approving three additional casinos closer to New York City
- Expanding VLT and off-track betting facilities
- Putting other forms of gambling online
NY sports betting revenue disappointing without mobile
Addabbo attested that his blood pressure spiked when he saw that sports betting revenue in New Jersey rose to $46.4 million in October, an $8 million increase.
Sports betting revenue in New York fell from $2.3 million to $2.2 million over the same period.
“If the case isn’t clear that we need the mobile aspect of sports betting in our state, with those numbers alone, I don’t know what makes it more clear than that. You’ve got to be kidding me.
This is New York state. We don’t take steps backward. We go forward. Any hurdle we face – I don’t care if it’s a constitutional issue, a tribal issue – we can resolve it, we can address it, and we got to do it in order to get mobile betting in 2020.”
Addabbo added that he recently spoke with NYSGC executive director Rob Williams to express his frustration about the revenue New York is taking in for sports betting compared to states that have mobile wagering.
“You don’t do sports betting without the mobile component, you just don’t – not in today’s society,” Addabbo said. “Everybody else has a nice car and we’re driving an Edsel. It’s not right. I hope these numbers are a stark reality wake-up that we’ve got to do something here. The whole country is booming with mobile sports betting and we’re lagging behind.”
Delay makes it hard for study to impact legislative session
When the NYSGC first issued the request for proposal, it announced it would select the winning bid to conduct the study on Aug. 12 so that the study could begin Sept. 1. The first draft would have been due Nov. 29, before the study will actually get underway, with the final report in before the new year.
That would have given the legislature plenty of time to digest the findings and use the study to push for legislation.
Now the first draft is due April 1, the same day as the next state budget which Addabbo hopes will include online sports betting in New York.
And the deadline for the final report is June 1, the day before the legislative session is scheduled to end. That’s several weeks earlier than usual in order to give lawmakers time to prepare for the November elections.
The NYSGC asks that analysis of existing casinos, the ramifications of issuing three new casino licenses and potential market for mobile sports betting be given the highest priority and be substantially complete in the first draft.
“It’s certainly challenging, but it can still be a useful tool for us next session,” Addabbo said. “And the report isn’t required for us to do what we have to do. We can do what we need to legislatively without the report, and if the numbers keep coming up like this then I don’t think we should even have to look at the report. We can look at the numbers as they exist and do what we have to do.”