Will New York Ever Grow to Dominate the iGaming Market?
New Jersey remains the king of online gambling in the US. but could the Big Apple of New York ever evolve to fully legalize gambling and steal this crown?
New Jersey is one of only three states to fully legalize online gambling, alongside Delaware and Pennsylvania. As a result of this, there’s a raft of online casinos in NJ, and iGaming has become a huge revenue generator for the state since 2012.
This sector is also dominated by the collaboration between Golden Nugget and Betfair, who generated $31.49 million in July 2020 alone and accounted for the majority of the overall spend online.
While NJ may currently be king of the iGaming market in the US, states such as New York could ultimately challenge this status in the future. But how likely is this, and how far into the future could this take hold?
The Current iGaming Law in New York
Given the physical and mental impact of Covid-19 in the Big Apple, it may seem as though iGaming is little more than a minor consideration in the great scheme of things.
However, it has now been more than two years since the Supreme Court in the US struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which historically prohibited sports betting in North America at a federal level.
Despite this and the fact that more than 14 US states have since legalized mobile sports betting, New York has yet to follow suit. In fact, a Senate bill proposing the legalization of both sports betting and iGaming was struck down in the Big Apple earlier this year, with the current governor offering strong and sustained resistance.
Even the coronavirus pandemic has failed to solicit a positive response from authorities in New York, despite this being a catalyst for online gambling in both the US and across the globe.
This is indicative of the state’s overall gambling laws, which in many instances date back more than one hundred years and continue to restrict casino gameplay and sports betting (outside of pari-mutuel wagering) throughout the state.
Of course, there are exceptions to these laws, with charitable gambing and the New York State Lottery offering relevant cases in point. Similarly, tribal gambling and class-II commercial wagering is legal and easily accessible to the state’s citizens, as is the case in most jurisdictions throughout North America.
Interestingly, the New York lottery remains the single most popular gambling activity in the state, with participation levels often higher than 92% on average.
This highlights the fact that there’s a clear demand for wagering and iGaming in New York, but so far the governor and local authorities have resisted this and failed to follow the lead set by neighbouring states such as New Jersey.
So, Could New York possibly Overtake New Jersey in the Future?
This juxtaposition is an interesting one, as it highlights both the challenges facing iGaming in New York and the state’s immense potential as an iGaming leader of the future.
If we accept that demand is high, for example, we must also factor in the sheer size of New York’s population. Make no mistake; New York is classed as America’s fourth most-populous state, while New York City is also the largest and most influential urban area in the US.
It’s also the most densely populated city in the whole of America, and one provides a vast target market for iGaming brands both in the US and international operators based overseas (such as William Hill and Paddy Power, who boast growing market shares in the North American market).
This is why there have been so many attempts to legalize iGaming and mobile sports betting in recent times, with separate bills having failed in both 2019 and 2020.
After the most recent review in January of this year, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced modest concessions to potentially expand legal gambling (mostly offline) in the state, while simultaneously striking new legislation that would allow for the introduction of mobile sports betting.
Of course, optimists may argue that it would have appeared opportunistic to pursue iGaming legislation during the coronavirus outbreak.
After all, a rapid increase in unemployment and the number of people working from home created something of a captive market for operators, so aggressively looking to legalize online gambling may have been viewed as a cynical attempt to cash in.
Remember, over in the UK the regulator has sought to clampdown on iGaming advertising during lockdown, in order to safeguard vulnerable players and minimize gambling-related harm.
The question that remains, however, is whether there remains a strong desire to legalize iGaming in the long-term in New York, as a way of increasing state tax revenues exponentially and introducing stringent regulatory measures?
For now, the answer appears to be no, but it cannot be denied that the case for online gambling will become increasingly irresistible as the practice continues to enter the mainstream and provide a huge boost to state coffers nationwide.At this stage, New York may finally begin to realise its potential as an iGaming hub, and potentially challenge neighbouring New Jersey