Online Sports Betting Begins in New York

New York aerial view. Ed Jones / AFP

A new era of legal online sports wagering began in New York this weekend as BetRivers, Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings and FanDuel all launched.

Retail sports betting has been permitted in the Empire State since 2019, but it was confined to upstate casinos. Most New Yorkers had to cross over the border into New Jersey to place legal sports bets on their mobile devices.

That all changed this weekend. Towards the end of 2021, a competitive bidding process ended with the New York State Gaming Commission approving licenses for nine operators. The first four went live this weekend, in time for the final round of games in the NFL regular season.

The First Bets Placed

DraftKings revealed that the first mobile sports bet is accepted in New York was an ambitious six-team parlay. The bettor wagered $15 on the Kansas City Chiefs to cover a 10.5-point spread against the Denver Broncos, the Philadelphia Eagles +4, under 44 points in the Colts vs. Jaguars game, the Steelers to win on the moneyline against the Ravens, under 37 points in the Bengals vs. Browns game, and the 49ers to beat the Rams straight-up.

The $15 bet would have paid $1,430.45 if successful. However, it fell at the first hurdle, as the Chiefs only beat the Broncos by 4 points, highlighting just how difficult it is to land a winning parlay.

Caesars Sportsbook also revealed a bold parlay was the first bet it accepted in New York. The customer placed $20 on a five-leg European soccer parlay featuring Barcelona, Bayer Levekusen, RB Leipzig, Hoffenheim and Borussia Dortmund all to win.

RB Leipzig thumped Mainz 4-1, Hoffenheim picked up a 3-1 win against Augsburg and Dortmund beat Eintracht Frankfurt 3-2. However, Granada grabbed a last-minute equalizer against Barcelona, while Bayer Leverkusen could only draw 2-2 with Union Berlin, causing the parlay to bust.

The first customer at BetRivers wagered $500 on the Chiefs vs. Broncos game, while the first bet at FanDuel’s online sportsbook was a $21 wager on the Cowboys vs. Eagles game.

Lundqvist Lands Caesars Deal

Perhaps the biggest winner of the weekend was former New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who was unveiled as Caesars Sportsbook’s new brand ambassador. He sent out a promotional video on Twitter welcoming New Yorkers to Caesars.

“Today is a historic day for not only Caesars Sportsbook, but for the entire state of New York,” said Chris Holdren, co-president of Caesars Digital. “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.”

FanDuel Sponsors Buffalo Bills

FanDuel marked the occasion by announcing a sponsorship deal with the Buffalo Bills. The sportsbook’s branding will be featured heavily at Highmark Stadium, and FanDuel will also sponsor a Bills-themed podcast called Bills by the Numbers.

“The Bills take pride in being a culture that is built on genuine connection with their fans, and we are absurdly fan-focused at FanDuel, making this a natural collaboration,” said Mike Raffensperger, FanDuel’s chief marketing officer. “As we prepare to bring America’s #1 sportsbook to New York state, we will collaborate with the Bills to bring unique content and experiences to one of the most loyal fanbases in sports.”

FanDuel is the market leader in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but DraftKings has surged into an early lead in states including Illinois and Arizona, so it will be interesting to see who comes out on top in the early stages in New York. BetMGM and four other brands should launch in the Empire State soon.