The New York State Gaming Commission approved four licensed mobile sports wagering operators to begin taking mobile bets in the state beginning at 9 a.m. on January 8, and cable networks are gearing up for what they hope to be a big financial windfall.
Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Rush Street Interactive, which operates the BetRivers Sportsbook, got the green light from the Gaming Commission on Jan. 7, about a week prior to the January 15 start of the National Football Leauge playoffs and around a month before Super Bowl LVI on February 13, the biggest betting day of the year.
In a press release, Rush Interactive CEO Richard Schwartz said New York’s decision came just in time.
“With the college football championship game on January 10th and NFL playoffs approaching, and the NBA and NHL seasons in full swing, in addition to countless other sports and betting options available for play, fans have endless entertainment at their fingertips at BetRivers,” Schwartz said in a press release.
Eyeing a $10 Billion Opportunity
New York State expects mobile sports gambling to represent a $10 billion revenue windfall annually. On Nov. 8, the state agreed to allow mobile sports wagering — about 18 other states, including neighboring New Jersey, have allowed it for months —- with the government taking 51% of gross revenue generated by the providers.
With New York in the mix, however, other states that have been on the fence regarding mobile sports betting — including Connecticut, Delaware, Ohio, Louisiana, and Maryland, which have approved mobile gambling but haven’t gone live — will give them a needed push.
“When it starts in New York, it becomes a national story,” said sports consultant Lee Berke, CEO of LHB Sports Media & Entertainment. “You’ve got four of the biggest sportsbooks starting on this, they’re creating New York-specific commercials, it’s going to become a subject of New York-based media outlets,” which should give any fence-sitters a needed push.
Another incentive for states: the enormous amount of money to be made. Some reports estimate that New York could reap about $1 billion in yearly profits from mobile sports betting. The state also is charging each mobile sports wagering operator a one-time $200 million licensing fee, and other providers are expected to join the fray. Initially nine providers were conditionally licensed by the state — Bally Corp.’s BallyNets; BetMGM, WynnBET; PointsBet New York; and Empire Resorts, doing business as Resorts World — were the others. The state Gaming Commission is still considering those five other applicants.
“The remaining five conditionally licensed Mobile Sports Wagering Operators continue to work towards satisfying statutory and regulatory requirements necessary to launch and will be approved on a rolling basis when requirements are met,” the Gaming Commission said in a statement.
New Jersey has said gross revenue from online sports wagering was about $1 billion in September, most of that from mobile transactions. New York allowing mobile betting might cut into that handle — New York City gamblers were known to travel into the state just to make mobile bets. According to some reports, New York gamblers made about 25% to 30% of the sports bets in New Jersey.
For television networks, the initial windfall is likely to be in the form of additional advertising — already Caesar’s Sportsbook, FanDuel, DraftKings and Rush Street, have been ramping up ads leading to Jan. 8. While sportsbooks have been advertising on sports channels ever since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed legal sports wagering in 2018, Berke said the introduction of the largest media market in the country to mobile wagering is a game-changer.
“As it becomes more national in scope, the economics change in terms of being able to offer up a range of national content in a range of national media outlets,” Berke said. “Even six months ago, buying on the NFL, people were starting to do it, but it’s inefficient because half of the country can’t bet. When New York kicks in, suddenly, things change.”
Berke said that viewers should expect similar programming on other sports channels, as “the line blurs between what is sports programming and what is sports betting programming.”
At YES Network, the home of New York Yankees baseball, Brooklyn Nets basketball, New York City Football Club soccer and New York Liberty basketball, the initial impact will mainly be on ad sales. But the RSN, the most-watched in the country, already has strong relationships with sportsbooks like FanDuel and DraftKings, so New York's entry into mobile sports betting “just makes YES all the more valuable to these entities,” said spokesman Eric Handler.
FanDuel and DraftKings probably have the biggest relationships with television networks, having inked a deal with Turner Sports in October 2020 to integrate betting information into content from TNT, TBS and Bleacher Report. That pact also included the ability for Turner to collect referral fees if bettors placed wagers through their sites.
MSG Moves Aggressively
Across the board, sports networks have long been anticipating this day, and many have spent the past few months forging partnerships with casinos and sports wagering outlets and creating programming geared toward gaming aficionados.
One of the more aggressive networks on the programming and deal fronts has been New York area regional sports network MSG Networks, which has expanded its sports betting-focused programming. In October MSG Networks launched Odds with Ends hosted by former New York Giants players Mathias Kiwanuka and David Tyree on Sunday mornings during the NFL season; and The Bettor Half Hour hosted by Alex Monaco to complement its existing betting shows including The Betting Exchange with sports gaming experts Katie Mox, Jeff Johnson and former New York Jets safety Erik Coleman.
Caesars Sportsbook also plans to launch a new series on MSG Networks and its social media channels featuring actor and comedian JB Smoove — who also stars in the sportsbook’s national commercials. The show, One Course with JB Smoove, will integrate Caesars Sportsbook betting odds and content. In addition, the gaming giant and MSG Networks will launch a 20-part programming marathon to bring back the 2013 series Four Courses with JB Smoove, where the actor and comedian conversed with athletes and celebrities over dinner and which will now be updated with Caesars-themed content.
Caesar’s Sportsbook also will sponsor a special month-long programming block tied to former New York Ranger goalie Henrik Lundqvist. ■
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