Analysis: Mobile New York Sports Betting Opening Weekend Key Takeaways

Analysis: Mobile New York Sports Betting Opening Weekend Key Takeaways
By Bill Ordine

The gaming world was certainly braced for the debut of the mobile New York sports betting market and observers knew it was going to produce unprecedented numbers.

However, what occurred over Saturday and Sunday as four online sports betting operators launched their sports betting apps/websites — Caesars Sportsbook NY, DraftKings New York, FanDuel New York and BetRivers New York — exceeded expectations and projections that were based purely on New York’s standing as the fourth most populous state in America.

Using metrics provided by GeoComply, a company that provides geographic security for the gaming industry, a 12-hour portion on New York’s first day of sports betting (9 a.m.-9 p.m., Jan. 8) saw a volume of 5.8 million geolocation transactions.

Remember, that figure only provides an implication regarding actual dollars wagered, but since it more than doubled the next highest state, Pennsylvania with 2.3 million, under similar start-up circumstances, a reasonable inference can be made that handle totals will be record-shattering in New York.

The NY sports betting volume from the weekend, according to information provided by GeoComply’s managing director for gaming, Lindsay Slader, was 17.2 million. The transaction volume from just NYC’s five boroughs was 8 million for the weekend, which was higher than any other individual state.

For a frame of reference, the five boroughs have a combined 8.8 million people, which means that if they constituted a state, the population would rank 11th in the country (discounting New York state as a whole) and 5th among states with online sports gambling.

So here are five observations from the high-flying start of online sports betting in New York:

New York Was Ready For Sports Betting

Sports fans in New York were primed for this weekend. That may sound obvious, but it’s still noteworthy that sports gambling in New York benefitted from all the marketing hype surrounding sports betting, especially the television advertising from the major sports gambling operators during NFL telecasts all season. Agaiin, it may sound obvious, but no other start-up state had that drumroll.

New Yorkers Knew How to Bet

New Jersey gets an assist. A problem that online gambling operators frequently face is technological “friction” in their interfaces between themselves and customers. But thousands and thousands of New York bettors had already been crossing into New Jersey to bet on sports in that state so New York was already populated with legions of sports bettors who didn’t have to be educated on how a New York sports betting app works.

From registering, to signing up for promotions, to actually making choices about a betting proposition, New York had the advantage of a betting public that had already been swimming in the online sports betting waters, and had become comfortable.

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Free Money Always Helps

New York sports betting promo codes worked. Many news stories written and broadcast about sports betting arriving in New York — and there were a ton — didn’t merely announce that online sports wagering was on its way. Included in much of that introductory hype was the message loud and clear that operators were giving away “free bets” and deposit bonuses. There’s an old advertising adage that sex sells. Well, free money sells pretty good, too.

Some examples of the promotions being offered:

  • DraftKings New York presented new bettors with a 20% welcome match deposit bonus worth up to $1,000.
  • Caesars Sportsbook New York’s new users were offered a free bet of $300 and first-deposit match of up to $3,000. Caesars NY also has a promotion for an NBA jersey.
  • FanDuel New York gave new bettors in New York a risk-free first wager of $1,000.

Waiting for Meaningful Numbers

Understandably, there’s a rush to broadcast the metrics that are available regarding New York sports betting, and GeoComply did a good job in supplying the transaction figures in a timely way as well as a time-lapse map regarding where those transaction were coming from.

As an aside, just from observing the GeoComply map, it appeared that IOS devices were the favored means for bettors to get their money down. But in terms of meaningful numbers, what needs to be remembered is that handle is not revenue, and revenue is not profit. Not to mention the matter of taxes to the state. These are figures that still have to be sorted out.

Other States Paying Attention to NY?

Other states are watching (or should be). New York, as the fourth-most populous state in America, is the largest so far to roll out online sports betting. Stuck in neutral for various reasons are the top three states, California, Texas and Florida.

If New York posts decent numbers, especially in tax collections, that will give ammunition to sports gambling advocates in other states where the struggle is ongoing. Think Massachusetts, North Carolina and Mississippi, which are all leaning toward online sports betting but need a push to overcome inertia or convincing to overcome objections.

Good numbers out of New York would be a talking point for online sports wagering advocates in some of those places.



Bill Ordine was a reporter and editor in news and sports for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore Sun for 25 years, and was a lead reporter on a team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News. Bill started reporting on casinos and gaming shortly after Atlantic City’s first gambling halls opened and wrote a syndicated column on travel to casino destinations for 10 years. He covered the World Series of Poker for a decade and his articles on gaming have appeared in many major U.S. newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald and others.

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