New York Casinos Post Meager Sports Betting Numbers In October

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New Jersey’s mobile sports betting platforms already have enabled the state to rival defending champion Nevada’s monthly handle – although Nevada reclaimed the crown in September.

But a look at the just-released New York State revenues for October show that state coming up small even in a retail vs. retail comparison.

First off, New Jersey sportsbooks achieved $37.9 mm in revenue in September (October figures are coming on Thursday) while New York shops gained just $2.2 mm last month.

But setting aside the 84% of New Jersey business wagered online, the state still easily outpaced New York in a brick-and-mortar battle.

Of the eight New Jersey (all in Atlantic City) and four New York (all 100 or more miles north of midtown Manhattan) sportsbooks, the leader by far is the FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack, with $3.6 mm in retail revenue in September.

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Ocean Casino’s Boardwalk sportsbook did $1.8 mm in revenue.

The top New York sportsbook last month, meanwhile, was Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady, at just over $1 mm. That’s barely ahead of Monmouth Park’s William Hill-operated sportsbook in Oceanport at the Jersey Shore for September (both fall months feature football as king, with late-season baseball also in the mix. So New Jersey, as New York did, is expected to see similar overall revenues in each month).

Borgata’s elaborate Moneyline Sportsbook — built for $10 mm – took in $756k in September. That topped New York’s runner-up last month – del Lago Resort and Casino at $572k.

Resorts World Catskills — the closest casino to New York City and thus theoretically the main option for those wishing to remain in-state — produced just $506k in revenue in October.

By all industry accounts, then, New Yorkers are bringing more revenue to the Meadowlands than they are to the Catskills.

The fourth New York sportsbook — Tioga Downs, owned by Meadowlands Racetrack operator Jeff Gural — produced just $153k last month, less than any Atlantic City book did in September.

Seneca Nation must pay up

A federal judge last week upheld an arbitration panel’s ruling that leaves the Seneca Nation of Indians with more than a $250 mm bill.

That’s the amount that the tribe had withheld from New York State since 2017 due to a dispute over an extension of a 17-year-old compact between the two sides.

The appeal of the arbitration ruling was a longshot, given state law on such orders.

“A controlled majority of arbitrators recently held that the compact requires such payments,” wrote Judge William Skretny. “While this binding arbitration has widespread, direct inverse ramifications for the citizens of each party, the correctness of the decision is not now an issue.

“Rather, the exceedingly narrow question before this court is whether the panel’s majority manifestly disregarded governing law in reaching its determination. Because this court finds that it did not, the state’s cross petition to confirm the arbitration award must be granted and the Nation’s petition and motion to vacate the award must be denied.”

The original deal gave the tribe exclusive rights to offer gambling in a large portion of the state in exchange for a percentage of gross gaming revenue — from 18 to 25%.

Oddly, the seven-year extension that was triggered in 2016 when neither party objected did not specify whether the most recent payout of 25% would continue — or if there was to be any payment at all.

Or as the judge wrote in his ruling, “The compact is silent with respect to the terms of any state contribution in the seven-year renewal period.”

That led to a split 2-1 decision among arbitrators who had to try to divine the intent of writers of the compact. The majority found that the intent was that continuation of regional exclusivity on gambling means that the tribe must continue to pay for that privilege — at the same 25% rate as from 2010-16.

The Senecas have so far lagged behind the other New York tribes in launching sports betting at their casinos in the Buffalo and Niagara Falls areas. The tribe did recently announce a deal with Kambi Group to be its vendor for such wagering.

It’s not clear if their loss in this compact dispute might lead to further friction should New York seek to offer mobile sports betting, the inclusion of state racetracks in such wagering, or other gaming expansion. The tribes are key stakeholders in any progress that is made — retail sports betting was less complicated because there is no dispute that the tribal casinos can offer any gambling that the commercial casinos do.

Mobile sports betting figures to be trickier — will any operator be able to offer bets statewide, as in New Jersey, or will regional exclusivity be in play on that front as well?

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John Brennan

John Brennan has covered NJ and NY sports business and gaming since 2002 and was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist in 2008, while reporting for The Bergen County Record.

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