New York Casinos Receive Sports Betting Assist, Report Increased Foot Traffic During Football Kickoff

Posted on: September 11, 2019, 10:49h. 

Last updated on: September 11, 2019, 12:17h.

The four New York casinos located upstate say the first week of the National Football League (NFL) season was a roaring success, as their sports betting lounges increased foot traffic.

New York casinos sports betting
The Rivers sportsbook was one of four upstate New York casinos busy last weekend with football fans. (Image: David Klepper/AP)

The NFL kicked off its 2019-20 season last week, and while the New York Giants and Jets both lost, the state’s casinos won. Sports betting, which is legal only at the four upstate land-based casinos and not online, brought hordes of fans north.

Rivers Casino in Schenectady said it welcomed two or three times the number of guests it normally experiences on a Sunday. The venue’s sportsbook – a 5,000-square-foot space featuring a 53-foot-long by nine-feet-high LED video wall – was bustling.

Casino executives told ABC News 10 that the first week of the NFL season was “smooth and successful.”

Del Lago Resort Casino in Seneca County also reported increased patrons, with its DraftKings sportsbook packed with Giants and Jets fans. The two other upstate New York casinos – Resorts World and Tioga Downs – additionally saw their sportsbooks busy last weekend.

The Giants (+7) failed to cover the spread against their rival Dallas Cowboys in the 35-17 loss. The Jets also failed to cover, as they were favored by 2.5 against the visiting Buffalo Bills but lost 17-16.

Sports Betting Welcomed

Aside from sports betting fans, no one is more excited for legal sports betting than the executives at the parent companies to the four upstate New York casinos.

The properties have all struggled to meet pre-opening gross gaming revenue (GGR) forecasts, and many are bleeding money. The worst has been the most expensive: Resorts World Catskills. The nearly bankrupt $1.2 billion property was recently sold to Malaysian billionaire Lim Kok Thay’s Genting Berhad and his family trust.

Genting was already a majority owner in Empire Resorts, the parent company to Resorts World Catskills. Lim taking full control is an effort to turn the resort profitable, something he believes can only be achieved by eliminating creditors and high interest.

New Visitors

New York passed its sports betting regulations when it authorized the four upstate casinos in 2013. The laws would govern the gambling activity only if a change came to federal law, which occurred in May 2018 with the Supreme Court’s historic repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA).

But unsuccessful legislative efforts to legalize mobile sports betting delayed land-based operations. The first legal brick-and-mortar sports bet was placed only in July 2019.

Though mobile sports betting is accounting for the vast majority of handle in neighboring New Jersey, the upstate casinos nonetheless are excited to bring more foot traffic to their venues.

The New York Legislature has adjourned for 2019. But when it reconvenes in January 2020, efforts to expand sports betting are expected to reignite. New York Sen. Joe Addabbo (D-Queens) said sports betting should be extended to the state’s eight racinos, one of which is in his district – Resorts World New York City.