Mobile sports bets booming in New York as bettors wager billions
The stakes are higher in Ohio this year for March Madness — and not just because it’s a regional host for the first round of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament.
For the first time, Ohio sports fans can click on a mobile app or tap into kiosks at bars, restaurants or grocery stores and legally bet on the famed tournament.
Kansas, Massachusetts and Maryland also are new additions to the world of online sports betting since the NCAA tournament last tipped off. A total of 33 states — including New York, where bettors are wagering billions of dollars — and the District of Columbia now offer at least some form of sports wagering — each scrambling for shares of the enterprise that has rapidly expanded after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed it nearly five years ago.
New York began allowing sports betting in 2019, but only in person at four upstate casinos, limiting the market. Betting boomed when the state began allowing people to make sports bets through cell phones and computers in January 2022.
In the first month, more than $1.6 billion was wagered through online sports betting, compared to just $15 million through in-person sports bets at casinos.
New York charges a 51% tax on revenue from mobile sports betting — a far higher rate than other states — with most revenue going to education. Budget officials originally projected that mobile sports betting would generate $357 million in state tax revenue for the 2023 fiscal year, which ends March 31. Bettors have blown that away. Through February, mobile sports betting had generated $661 million of tax revenue for education.
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr., who advocated for sports betting as chair of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, said even he is amazed at the results.
“There is an appetite, certainly, to do sports betting with a mobile device,” Addabbo said.
Nationwide, legal sports betting has generated more than $3 billion in state and federal taxes since the 2018 Supreme Court ruling allowing it, according to the American Gaming Association, the industry’s largest lobbying organization. It’s producing about three-quarters of what eventually could be expected from a fully mature market.
The debate about sports betting has shifted from “`Is this something we should consider?’ to ‘How should we go about doing this in a way that best serves our constituencies?’” said Casey Clark, the association’s senior vice president.
The three most populous states — California, Texas and Florida — all currently lack online sports betting. The Seminole Tribe of Florida, which received exclusive state rights to run sports betting, shut down its online app in December 2021 after federal courts ruled it violated a rule requiring people to be physically present on tribal land when wagering.
After the most expensive ballot issue battle in U.S. history, California voters last November rejected a pair of rival sports betting initiatives backed by Native American tribes and the gambling industry.
Supporters are likely to try again, though it’s unclear when that might occur.
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