Online Sports Betting Launches in New York; Expert Warns of Increased Addiction Risk

Five sportsbook operators have already launched, and four more are to come, in the now-largest state with legal sports betting in the US.
January 19, 2022

It may be only mid-January, but what is sure to be one of the most important events of the year has already taken place — the much-anticipated launch of legal online sports betting in New York.

At 9 am on Saturday, January 8, 2022, four online sportsbooks went live in NY and quickly raised the bar with impressive figures right out of the gate. New York is the largest state by population to date in which sports betting has been legalized and the opening day produced record numbers.

On January 6, the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) approved four mobile sports betting operators to begin accepting wagers for the following weekend. All of them went live including BetRivers (under Rush Street Interactive), Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings, and FanDuel.

An additional four companies have been issued a license and launch on a rolling basis, once they have “satisfied all statutory and regulatory requirements necessary to accept and process mobile sports wagering activity.” One other sports gambling operator has already shown up late to the party, joining the inaugural four nine days after their big launch. Gambling giant BetMGM, became the fifth active sportsbook in NY after it launched and took its first wagers in the Empire State on Monday, January 17.

The initial launch on January 8 came right before the final day of the regular NFL season and just ahead of the playoffs and, of course, the Super Bowl. This time of year is one of the busiest when it comes to regulated sports betting in the US and that was certainly seen in the Empire State.

Many New Yorkers previously went to nearby states where mobile sports betting was already legal — such as Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania to place their wagers — but these trips are now no longer necessary. Within the first 12 hours alone, New York became the number 1 state in terms of volume for sports betting wagers across all of the regulated US markets, as reported by GeoComply.

The geolocation security company has been tracking the activities in regulated US markets and reported a total volume of $17.2 million in wagers for the opening weekend. Early figures indicated that the five boroughs of New York City were responsible for more than $8 million in wagers, which in itself made the city’s sports betting volume larger than any other regulated US state for the same period.

Such a high-profile and highly successful launch was certainly celebrated in the industry and it certainly seems to forecast a bright future for further expansion. However, it also required the need for all operators to uphold their responsible gaming efforts in such a large and bustling state as well.

Brandy Richards, an Addiction Specialist from the New York Problem Gambling Resource Center’s Northeast location, warned of the increased risk of gambling problem cases in the Empire State. Richards was interviewed by local channel CBS 6 Albany and her concerns were published on January 10, two days after the historic launch.

“I think with anything when you increase accessibility, the likelihood of problems is also going to increase. Now that individuals have access 24/7 right in the palm of their hand to gambling,” Richards was quoted and further expanded upon the potential impact. “We have concerns for people who may already be struggling with gambling problems or are in recovery; having that access may be really detrimental to them.”

The resource center has seven locations in total within the state borders and provides prevention and treatment services for problem gamblers. It is run by the New York Council on Problem Gambling, which is funded by the Office of Addiction Supports and Services through the tax revenue that is generated by the legal gambling operators.

All approved operators in New York are well-established brands with dedicated responsible gambling measures in place across their online platforms, websites, and mobile apps.

“It’s important people play within their limits,” said Rush Street Interactive CEO Richard Schwartz, according to the CBS 6 Albany article. “We have all kinds of tools on the site to pause the limits, time limits, take a break; if you want to take a break for a day, three days, 30 days, you want to self-exclude.”

The legal operators are actively working together with responsible state regulators and research facilities to ensure a safe gambling environment for all sportsbook customers.

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