New York bettors were able to place their first online wagers on January 8 as the United States’ largest sports betting market went live. New York made US gaming history when its online betting market launched, with four operators. Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings, FanDuel and Rush Street Interactive (RSI) became the Empire State’s first four operators to offer online sports betting after they were given the green light to accept and process mobile wagers from the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC).
While nine operators have been licensed, only these four initially launched in the state, while the remaining five continued to work towards satisfying statutory and regulatory requirements. Nevertheless, four operators were enough to see New York outstrip every other state to become the US’s biggest sports betting market during its debut weekend.
Data expert GeoComply said that, in just 12 hours, the northeastern state became the number one jurisdiction nationwide for sports betting. Millions of sports fans jumped at the opportunity to place bets on their favorite franchises from the comfort of their own homes. In total, 5.8 million geolocation pings were recorded in the first day, making New York’s debut the single largest for a sports betting market in US history – no other state even comes close. In fact, its debut was more than double that of previous record holder, Pennsylvania.
As a result, it should come as no surprise that many were lauding this as a landmark moment for the gaming industry, including Caesars Digital Co-President Chris Holdren, who said: “Today is a historic day for not only Caesars Sportsbook, but for the entire state of New York. We’re ready to treat sports fans across the state of New York like royalty through our Caesars Sportsbook app, as we welcome them into the Caesars empire, extend our already established roots and continue to build partnerships that benefit our bettors.”
But what have people been betting on? DraftKings offered some insights. Roughly 46% of its handle came from the NFL, while a further 24% came from the NBA. College basketball and college football followed suit, accounting for approximately 6% and 5% of handle.
In New York’s first weekend of sports wagering, the Kansas City Chiefs was the most bet-on team, followed by the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. Others in the top 10 included the Buffalo Bills, Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers, as well as local teams the Jets and the Knicks. Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes topped the list of the most bet-on players, while the Denver Broncos’ Drew Lock came in second, followed by Travis Kelce and Javonte Williams. Prior to Saturday’s launch, Johnny Avello, a New York native and DraftKings’ Director of Race and Sportsbook Operations, commented: “Growing up in New York and having spent the last 30-plus years in Las Vegas, I am thrilled that my worlds are finally set to collide. Millions of New Yorkers will soon discover what we believe makes our DraftKings Sportsbook the very best in customer service and real-money gaming and entertainment.”
The state’s four operators began rolling out massive promotional campaigns almost straight away. Caesars customers, for example, received a $3,000 deposit match and a $300 sign-up bonus, as well as a free NBA jersey.
But while many were celebrating the launch of mobile sports betting in the Empire State, Brandy Richards, Team Leader of New York’s Northeast Problem Gambling Resource Center, urged people to take caution when placing wagers. Speaking to CBS 6 Albany, she expressed concern that the increased accessibility of mobile sports betting versus in-person wagering may result in heightened rates of problem gambling. “I think, with anything, when you increase accessibility, the likelihood of problems is also going to increase,” said Richards. “We have concerns about people who may already be struggling with gambling problems or are in recovery.”