Sports fans excited after NY announces mobile sports betting can start this weekend

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Sports gamblers and gambling companies alike are gearing up for a new era of legalized betting in New York this weekend.

On Thursday the New York State Gaming Commission announced it will allow sports gambling on mobile devices like your phone starting on Saturday.

"It just gives you something to root for and definitely makes it more exciting,” declared Scott Edwards of Pittsford, who had $10 on Victor Olofsson’s shots on goal in the Thursday night Sabres game.

He anticipated plenty more chances to bet once mobile sports gambling officially becomes legal in New York.

“Definitely NFL and playoffs, Bills, player props for the Bills,” he explained, "Teams that I follow the most and feel like I actually know something about.”

With its announcement Thursday, the Commission will allow online sports gambling, including on mobile apps and companies like Caesar’s Sportsbook, DraftKings, FanDuel and Rush Street Interactive, which offers the BetRivers Sportsbook, say they’re ready to go and are vigorously promoting their apps.

The state expects to take in $500 million a year in taxes on $10 billion in sports betting in the state, some of which had been going to neighboring states, which legalized it first.

"I think it really equals the playing field for New York,” said Rush Street Interactive CEO Richard Schwartz. “What you were seeing was a lot of players were leaving to go play in New Jersey. Those players are going to return back to New York now because of this opportunity.”

Gaming operators promise to be mindful of problem gambling and offer resources for gamblers to restrict themselves.

Advocates say that’s a nice start and hope to remind everyone there is help out there.

“There is not enough measures in place for someone not to go overboard so, I think there’s definitely some improvement they could be toward the future, to help people,” said Jenna Hotaling with the Finger Lakes Problem Gambling Resource Center.

Schwartz predicts his company will start gradually, with this weekend’s college and NFL football games, NHL and NBA games and Monday’s college football championship.

Scott Davis of Pittsford says having money on the line definitely adds to the excitement, speaking from his own experience.

“I bet small-time through some friends and books," Davis said. "Now that it’s legal, it’ll be a little bit of a relief. Now you just have to wonder about, like, taxes!”

One requirement of online sports gambling in New York is that the bettor must be physically within the state. That is an issue that will be policed by the gambling apps, which automatically demand access to your phone’s location.

In-Depth on how mobile sports betting got its approval:

New York legalized sports betting in 2019, but only in casinos.

The State Senate had previously supported proposals for app-based sports betting, but it wasn’t until the pandemic hit that Assembly Democrats were willing to reconsider in the summer of 2020.

State lawmakers passed the law allowing mobile sports betting in March, and the months leading up to this point were spent establishing agreements with apps to run mobile sports betting.