Three states have made the biggest headlines in recent weeks on the imminent future of legal sports betting: Arizona, Florida, and New York. The most important US sports betting legislation updates, of course, belong to the latter.
Though legal sports gambling in New York has long been considered a formality, the process has also been stagnant. The latest news has accelerated their timeline...by actually providing a timeline. And this most recent development will have an impact on the legalization of sports betting elsewhere.
Latest US Sports Betting Updates
As you can tell, it makes sense to begin in New York. From there, we'll head to Arizona and then wrap things up with the latest coming out of Florida.
Mobile Sports Betting Come to New York
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in the middle of April that mobile sports betting apps would be rolled out in the state extremely soon. The decision, obviously, was not unexpected.
But the plan itself has confused a lot of people.
Under the current structure, there will be a very low number of sportsbooks that are able to offer mobile betting experiences. Initial estimates forecast New York will be using two different vendors and a total of four operators. This leaves a lot of casinos (and racinos) out in the cold, including the tribal betting locations, which currently pay New York an estimated $70 million for gaming exclusivity.
In the grand scheme, this model doesn't hurt the state. They are still going to make money. But Cuomo said New York expects to generate $500 million in profit during the opening year. Experts believe it will be much lower without expanding the mobile offerings.
“They’ve got two feet in, but they’re wearing two different shoes,” Adam Candle, managing editor of the Legal Sports Report, told the New York Daily News. “I did call it a mess, because of the language in the bill. From the beginning of the process, Gov. Cuomo wanted a model run by the state and to limit the number of operators.”
Most agree that New Jersey has set up th better system. They allow sportsbooks from around the nation to compete for business within the state, and the results have been overwhelming: $6 billion in betting during the 2020 fiscal year alone, across roughly one dozen sites.
The Impact of New York's Sports Betting Model
Right now, it seems like New York wants to wield more control over the process. They are not only taking a healthy cut of sports betting proceeds, but they're serving as a gatekeeper for entry. Companies need to bid just for the right to have a spot in New York's betting scene—and then they still need to foot the bill on taxes from their profits.
Time will tell if this model is effective and whether it even lasts. The general expectation is sports betting won't yet take off in New York because so many residents will continue to opt for overseas bookies or keep heading to New Jersey or Pennsylvania.
Still, if the process is successful, it could later be adopted by other states that have thus far been reluctant to legalize sports betting. Places like Washington and Maryland, which are on pace to join the sports-betting fold, could decide to up the barrier for entry on prospective sportsbooks in hopes of both maximizing control and their profits.
Personally, we wouldn't bet on this becoming a commonality. But New York is certainly trying to innovate the legal sports-betting industry with its restrictions.
Arizona Dramatically Expands Sports-Betting Offerings
As New York emphasizes control over the sports-betting market, Arizona is going in the complete opposite direction by actual restrictions.
Governor Doug Ducey announced an "amended tribal gaming" package that will noticeably expand the number of places at which patrons can gamble on sports. Bets can now be accepted on all college and professional sports at tribal casino locations.
And that's not all.
On top of all that, people can place bets at the actual professional sporting venues. For example, if you're attending an NBA game between the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers, you can now place bets at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Just as New York's restrictive policies could prove infectious across the U.S., this might also be legislation that gets picked up elsewhere. Pro leagues like the NBA, NHL, MLB, and NFL are already pushing for it, and with the increase in legal sports betting on the rise, it feels like just a matter of time before in-arena gambling becomes standard.
Florida Approves Sports-Betting Bill
Sports betting isn't quite legal in Florida, but it's officially headed in that direction.
Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed a gaming bill that would allow bets to be placed at current operating tribal locations. The exact details aren't known—Will there be new sportsbooks opened? In-arena betting?—but the move is seen as a pivotal one for Florida's gaming future.
Whether the bill gets passed is a different story. Its fate will be determined by a May 17 vote.
At this point, though, it should be considered a formality.
Every state could use the extra revenue on the heels of the coronavirus pandemic. Florida, in particular, is probably leaving billions on the table by not having legalized sports betting just yet. It is among the largest tourist destinations in the world—thanks mostly to Orlando and Miami—so the sports-betting business would be globally relevant.
There's also an element of "Just hurry up and do it already."
Florida, among other states, is on the verge of entering the minority. Twenty-one states have already legalized sports betting, six more have approved it and another 13 are at least considering it. If Florida doesn't allow DeSantis' decision to stand, it would be a major blow to the long-term growth of their economy and, equally notable, a move that places Florida firmly behind the eight-ball relative to other states.
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