New York State Sports Betting Hearing Focuses on Mobile Wagering And League ‘Compensation’
Sports betting took center stage in Albany, New York on Wednesday. Representatives from the NFL, NBA PGA, FanDuel and other gaming industry experts gathered in New York’s state capital to give testimony on sports betting. Topics included the necessity of mobile wagering to any competitive market, potential revenue that would be generated from sports betting and what the leagues are looking to squeeze from sports betting in the Empire State.
Sen. Joseph Addabbo presided over the discussion, acting as the chair of the Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee.
Leagues still want fees
Daniel Spillane, a Senior Vice President at the NBA, kicked off the hearings by re-affirming the league’s stance on sports betting, saying the NBA supports regulated mobile wagering in New York. He also made it clear the league wants to be “compensated.”
When Spillane testified before a Senate committee in New York in January 2018, at the time the NBA wanted to get a full 1 percent off-the-top cut of all sports. This time around, Spillane did not pinpoint a percentage nor use the phrase “integrity fee” or “royalty.” But across the country, the NBA and MLB are now seeking laws requiring licensees to pay 0.25 percent off the top of all bets. Spillane also made it clear he wants licensed operators to use only “official data” as its source of game and betting info, coming directly from the NBA and its third-party suppliers.
Addabbo’s revised bill does include a 0.20 percent “royalty” an that data requirement. Expenses created as a result could trickle down to the bettor, possibly in the form of inferior pricing or fewer sportsbook options.
Andy Levinson, the Senior Vice President of the PGA, followed Spillane by naming all the golf tournaments held in the state of New York. He also made it clear that the integrity of the game is the most important thing and sports betting puts it at risk.
“We have nothing if we don’t believe athletes are trying their best, or if they believe the outcomes are contrived in any way,” said Levinson. “Sports betting puts that at risk.”
Will sports betting impact player safety?
Joe Briggs, Counsel to the NFL Players Association, pointed out that sports betting could put players at risk, and that’s something that needs to be considered when legalizing sports betting.
“Nobody here has said anything yet about what’s being bet on. The players,” said Briggs. “That’s a little concerning. Players want specific safety provisions for players, family, refs, etc. during and after games.”
Briggs stated there is an increase in anxiety between fans and athletes, which have sometimes goes beyond heckling, and sports betting will only continue to put a target on players.
“The leagues have to do something to address that within the stadium,” he said. “But what happens when they walk out?”
New York could be the king of mobile wagering
Chris Grove of Eilers & Krejcik Gaming spoke to the audience about online wagering and gave some staggering projections for New York. Grove believes in three to six years, roughly $960 million in total annual revenue would come from online/mobile wagering.
“The overwhelmingly amount of that opportunity will come from online sports betting and New York stands to outperform New Jersey,” said Grove.
Mobile important to fight illegal markets
Kip Levin, President and COO of FanDuel was one of the speakers representing sportsbook operators. Levin drove home the point that illegal sportsbooks are prevalent in New York and that legal, regulated mobile betting is by far the biggest revenue producer, as evidence by New Jersey. He also estimated that 25 percent of FanDuel’s revenue in New Jersey comes from New Yorkers crossing the state line to bet on sports.
“Mobile wagering is important to be successful and combating the illegal markets,” said Levin. “For NBA, I’d say 50 percent of our bets come from in-play betting.”
James Sottile of Scientific Games took on the league’s stance that sportsbooks and other operators must use their data.
“They don’t own it,” said Sottile. “They simply have ready access to it and the ability to license it.”
Will sports betting be legal by football season?
Under New York’s current proposal, sports betting will only be allowed in the form of retail sportsbooks at four upstate casinos: Rivers in Schenectady, Del Lago in the Finger Lakes region, Tioga Downs in the Southern Tier and Resorts World Catskills in Sullivan County. Addabbo Jr. and Pretlow introduced legislation that would also allow sports betting on mobile devices, as well as permitting it at venues like sports stadiums and arenas.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said expanding sports betting beyond the four commercial casinos requires a voter-approved constitutional amendment. Although, fellow Democrats who control the Legislature dispute that, saying the state can already allow mobile wagering.
The state Gaming Commission posted its rules for sports betting March 20, starting a 60-day period during which the public can comment. When that period ends on May 20, the commission will review the public comments. If there are no major changes to the regulations, the panel could then approve sports betting at its next meeting but time is running out with the legislative session coming to an end in mid-June.
Addabbo Jr. said he hopes the state will be ready to take bets by the upcoming NFL season, which kicks off on Sept. 5. Whether or not New Yorkers will be able to place those wagers on their phones remains to be seen.