One of the most important players involved in legalizing mobile NY sports betting this year is ready to get the process started.
Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. told LSR he is very optimistic about who will get involved in the bidding process, which is expected to open no later than Thursday.
“All I hear is enthusiasm by those in the industry,” Addabbo said. “I do believe New York will have its fair share of providers and operators to choose from.”
The New York State Gaming Commission was on track last month to launch the bidding process by July 1, Addabbo said. The goal is to launch mobile NY sports betting sometime during the NFL season, Addabbo reiterated.
Addabbo: Mobile NY sports betting should be smooth sailing by Super Bowl
It took plenty of legwork to get mobile sports betting language included in this year’s NY budget. Addabbo does not want that effort wasted by an issue-laden Super Bowl launch.
Addabbo previously mentioned the Super Bowl as a key date for online New York sportsbooks, which some have taken as an expected launch date. That is not the case, though, as there are too many factors that could go wrong, Addabbo said:
“This is not a light switch. You don’t turn it on and ‘Oh it’s running at its peak and we’re ready.’ You don’t want it to crash. I firmly believe there is such a market for mobile sports betting in New York that when it starts there’s going to be an onslaught of customers. And in order to retain those customers over time you need to have a top-shelf, premier product. Because you’re competing with major players like Jersey and even the illegal bookie and the online, offshore accounts.
“The idea is we are in a severe competition here and it’s a major market. So you really want to make sure you’re up and running well before the Super Bowl so you can work out all the inconsistencies and inefficiencies of the early stages of mobile sports betting in New York so that by the Super Bowl, you’ve been up and running.”
According to the language in the budget bill, the first winning bidders have to be selected by the end of December. That is based on the 30-day application period from July 1 and the 150-day period for the regulator to pick winners. The NYSGC could select winners before the end of that 150-day period, however.
Expect more than four online NY sportsbooks
One of the fiercest points of negotiation when it became clear Gov. Andrew Cuomo would not be shifting from his limited sports betting view was how many sportsbooks could actually launch.
Cuomo wanted one or two sportsbooks, but that was never enough for Addabbo and his Assembly counterpart Gary Pretlow. Those two originally crafted legislation that permitted 14 online sportsbooks. Those negotiations with the Governor’s office led to a minimum of four sports betting skins that will launch.
Addabbo, though, expects more than the minimum:
“I think we do have that potential, I really do. I think because it’s New York and the product we’re offering. … So yes, I firmly believe we’ll have more than four.
Minimum 50% rev share ‘accepted’
One of the biggest concerns for mobile New York sports betting is just how many operators are willing to give up a minimum of 50% of their revenue. That kind of revenue share could be unworkable for sportsbooks, but Addabbo said he has not heard much bristling.
“There was initial concern when we first did it but I think as it resonated and as people spoke about it, it settled in,” Addabbo said. “It’s been accepted, and let’s face it, let’s see how it goes. I always say the first incarnation of mobile sports betting in New York won’t be the last.”
Addabbo added he will look at the numbers after the Super Bowl to get a feel for how the market is performing to see if there is any reason to make a change. It will not be easy to make changes, though: the bidding process will lock in those winners for 10 years with little wiggle room for changes.