New York Watches the Money Leave

By Tom Barton

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It's the opening Sunday of the NFL season and I'm in New Jersey. No, not for a Giants or Jets home game, but to place some bets on the NFL games. As the football season has begun many New Yorkers are like me and have traveled to the Meadowlands, Atlantic City, Monmouth Park or even Delaware to place their legal sports bets. As I look around the casinos and talk to the fans all I see and hear are New Yorkers.

New Yorkers love their sports, maybe more than any other city in America, and now their passion can turn into profit .... in New Jersey. As the Big Apple drags it's feet on sports wagering and legalization millions of dollars are flowing out of the state. On the surface the numbers are incredible in themselves. There was almost $9.2 million dollars in profit made in August in New Jersey alone. Overall $95.6 million was wagered in August according to the N.J. report from the Division of Gaming Enforcement. That's a huge chunk of change.

Now let's dig deeper. What about the gas bought by NY commuters coming down to place those bets? How much can we add to that total when you include food, lodging, entertainment and other expenses? The numbers are staggering. All of this money could be kept in state but NYS law makers don't seem to be in much if a rush to get things in order.

The early chatter is that the 4 Upstate casinos will be granted the first licences and after that things get murky. MGM has bought the rights to a casino on Long Island, while Fan Duel bought the rights to have sports books open in Upstate casinos ... even while NYS is twiddling its thumbs. The New York Racing Association, Saratoga Casino and OTB have all been in the news awaiting their fate to carry sports betting as well as the big money maker online gaming but once again feet are being dragged.

Early projections exceed a half a billion dollars in revenue for the state in the next 5 years, so what's the holdup? Well Gov. Cuomo has been reluctant to give the green light to move forward. He is in an election year and that seems to be the holdup. When the election cycle ends and 2019 is here New Yorkers can expect legalized sports betting to come to the state, even if that means initially just upstate. We need to get this done and keep that money local.

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