Addabbo hopes mobile sports betting begins before next year's Super Bowl

With one of the most complicated and important state budgets finally complete, State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. is pleased to see that the legalization of mobile sports betting was included in the final language, an effort he’s worked on for over two years.

With New York State facing a major economic deficit caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and witnessing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and educational funding flowing to the New Jersey and illegal sports betting markets, by legalizing mobile sports betting, New York is expected to bring in around $99 million in Fiscal Year 2021-2022. That estimated figure then jumps to approximately $357 million in FY 2022-2023, eventually reaching over $500 million in FY 2025-2026, most of which will fund education in the state.

Mobile sports betting will allow people to place wagers on sporting events through their mobile phones or other internet-connected devices. Thirteen other states and Washington D.C. also have legal mobile sports betting.

“We were already facing a budget deficit before the COVID-19 pandemic, so we needed to find additional revenue streams for the state. There was no way we could cut our way out of the hole we found ourselves in,” Addabbo, the Chair of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, said. “Legalizing mobile sports betting will bring in the funds needed by the state that will go towards funding our education system, problem gambling awareness programs and creating jobs.”

New Yorkers are already placing mobile sports bets, but they are either going to the illegal market or quickly traveling to neighboring states where it is legal to do so. A study found that in 2019, New York residents wagered $837 million in New Jersey on sports bets. The Senator noted that not only was New York losing revenue to these other outlets, but individuals with gaming addition issues were not getting the help they needed.

“When New York residents travel to other states or participate in the illegal market to place mobile sports wagers, there is no way for us to identify and help them should they have a gaming addiction,” Addabbo said. “By safely legalizing mobile sports betting, New York State can better recognize and assist those with a gambling problem, with the help of the over one dozen safeguards and measures written into the bill’s language.”

The state Gaming Commission is to start the creation of the mobile sports betting process and begin to accept bids from sportsbook providers this coming July.

Addabbo hopes to see mobile sports betting fully functional and up-and-running here in New York by the next Super Bowl in 2022. The Super Bowl is the benchmark for mobile sports betting because millions of Americans place wagers in the popular sporting event.

According to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, Garden State residents bet $117 million on last year’s Super Bowl, an increase of 116% from last year’s $54 million in bets on the big game. This year’s total brought New Jersey over $11 million in revenue. While it is not currently known exactly how many of those bets were placed online, in December 2020 bettors wagered more than 93% of New Jersey’s betting handle through online sites.

Much like New Jersey, Iowa more than doubled its wagers from last year, taking in $16.3 million compared to $6.5 million. Pennsylvania took in $53.6 million in bets, an increase from $30.6 million on year ago. Oregon saw its bets spike to $3.46 million compared to $1.9 million last year. While first-time betting states like Illinois and Colorado saw residents wager $45.6 million and $31.2 million on the Super Bowl respectively.

“While we already have in-person legal sports betting here in New York, it is clear that the states that allow for mobile wagering are far more successful,” Addabbo added. “With another Super Bowl gone, New York continues to lag behind other states — even states that have just legalized sports betting — when we should be leading the way. I am hopefully that with the passage of legalized mobile sports betting, New York will soon begin to reap the benefits in terms of revenue, educational funding, addiction programs and jobs. For many, it is an exciting time to be a sports fan in New York.”