Opinion: Thanks Jersey, New York Can Take Sports Betting From Here

Written By Adam Candee on January 8, 2022
New York sports betting

Strong opinions are coded into the DNA of New Yorkers:

  • Our pizza and bagels are better than yours. Not sorry.
  • We’re not walking too fast. You’re walking too slowly.
  • And Jersey? Don’t get us started about New Jersey.

That last one explains why watching New York politicians dither while the New Jersey sports betting market thrives offended us so deeply. Thankfully, that affront ends today as mobile New York sports betting apps launch.

New York will get sports betting right

The New York sports betting market opens as an off-Broadway production, without question. My thoughts on just how badly New York botched its sports betting law are well-documented.

Yet the common sense of not letting perfect be the enemy of good enough finally won out in Albany. Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted on a closed model with an impractical tax structure and lawmakers hamstrung with little bargaining power played along.

That detente opened a path to today, when four major sportsbook operators launch in the country’s largest (and best) city. New Yorkers can access BetRivers, Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook, and FanDuel Sportsbook without crossing the Hudson to our kid brother’s place.

Better than betting in Jersey?

New York bettors hungry enough for legal action trekked across the George Washington Bridge since 2018.

As much as pain as it causes to say, the Garden State created a sports betting market to be envied: open licensing, reasonable tax rates, and simple registration. Its robust bonuses and promos do not hurt either.

The four sportsbooks opening Saturday in New York already operate in New Jersey. Many of their whales reside in New York City and contribute a sizable chunk of New Jersey handle.

The $1,000 promotions of yore never targeted them, however. Those offers aim at customers who might weigh a juicy New Jersey bonus against the convenience of wagering from an Upper East Side couch.

Questions persist within industry corridors about whether operators will blanket New York with Jersey-level bonuses. That appears unlikely under New York rules, but how many bettors in a volume business are true bonus hunters or line shoppers? A $100 bonus in Chelsea might prove just as appealing as a $250 promo in Piscataway for the average New York customer who (naturally) prefers Gotham.

Riding out the early New York sports betting market

Product and pricing will win in the long run. This is not cutting insight, of course, but Cuomo’s plan disincentivizes the best of both.

More sportsbooks drive product innovation and competitive lines. New Yorkers might not enjoy the latter in particular with a 51% tax bill staring down operators.

Legislators including Sen. Joe Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow appear aligned with industry representatives on the imperative of revisiting Cuomo’s plan in the near-term, though.

All of the players in New York grudgingly respected the need to go along with Cuomo, who no longer stands in the way. The market opportunity in a state with nearly 20 million residents demands flexibility and collaboration moving forward.

So let’s be honest: if Jersey somehow figured out how to start this, New York can finish it from here.

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Adam Candee

Adam Candee is the managing editor of Legal Sports Report. He covers sports business and news from Las Vegas, where he works as a sports radio host for ESPN, BetQL, and VSiN. Adam is a former editor and reporter at the Las Vegas Sun, Arizona Daily Sun, and KLAS-TV. He can be reached at [email protected]

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