Since launching Jan. 8, New York sportsbooks have already handled more than $9.7 billion on sports wagers statewide, a figure that cements the Empire State as the nation’s capital of sports betting. Online wagering has already generated more than $368 million for New York state tax coffers, an astounding figure considering that only four states across the nation have eclipsed the $100 million threshold since the U.S. Supreme Court’s repeal of PASPA in May 2018.
The explosion of sports betting leaves New York State Gaming Commission Executive Director Rob Williams optimistic that the state could generate $500 million in tax revenue from online sports wagering in the first year of the market. For context, when former Gov. Andrew Cuomo reversed course on sports betting in 2021, his administration projected that the state would not clear that figure until Fiscal Year 2026, at the earliest. The numbers are astounding when you consider that more than two other dozen states have generated around $1.31 billion in combined tax revenue from legal sports wagering since May 2018.
“We’re very pleased with the overall success of the mobile sports wagering industry in New York. We are very cognizant that we’ve reached those great numbers without going through a football season,” Williams told Sports Handle last week on the sidelines of the Racing and Gaming Conference at Saratoga.
The nation’s capital for sports betting
From the outset, there were clear indications that New York appeared poised to shatter national records, based on the sheer volume of activity in certain sports-crazed neighborhoods of Manhattan. New Yorkers placed more than 300,000 wagers over the first hour of legal sports betting in the Empire State, and a total of 17.2 million over the first weekend on Jan. 8-9, according to Vancouver-based geolocation provider GeoComply. For the Super Bowl, New York activity represented a whopping 25% of the company’s U.S. sports betting traffic, ranking first.
Consequently, there are strong indications that New York will surpass $2.3 billion in handle for the upcoming NFL season. Of the seven states that provide a breakdown for revenues by sport, wagering on the NFL last year represented about 18-20% of their overall handle, according to Sports Handle internal research. The figure jumped to 27.6% in Mississippi for retail sports wagers (the state only accepts online sports bets inside casino properties). One outlier is Nevada, where NFL wagers represent about 37% of the state’s overall handle on a historical basis, according to the UNLV Center For Gaming Research. Last year, NFL wagering represented 33.4% of the handle statewide.
New York launched online sports betting one day before the final Sunday of the 2021-22 NFL regular season.
When you toss in betting on college football, New York appears on track to clear $500 million in tax revenue. As a point of comparison, Colorado handled more than $158 million in college football wagers in 2021, on top of the $689.1 million state sportsbooks handled on the NFL. Although the Colorado figures contain wagers in several offseason months, the bulk of wagering occurred in the four months during the season. The population in New York outranks Colorado by a factor of 3.4x.
“There’s no doubt that as we go through this upcoming fall football season with both college and professional football that we will exceed the initial revenue numbers that we were aiming for,” Williams said. “It has been a wonderful success without what everyone concedes is the most important season to benefit sports wagering, so we’re very bullish on the market.”
At a hold of 8%, New York sportsbooks could generate more than $180 million in gross gaming revenue (GGR) from the NFL alone. Given the explosion of single-game parlays, it stands to reason that the hold this fall could be considerably higher. For those attempting to forecast the NFL hold in New York, trends on the hold from parlays in Illinois might be instructive: