New York hits home run with mobile sports betting

Mar. 27—WATERTOWN — Mobile sports betting in New York officially launched in January and the state has already set a national record for money pouring into online applications.

The New York State Gaming Commission reports that in the week ending on March 13, total mobile sports bets exceeded $406 million, with gross gaming revenue, or GGR hitting more than $36 million. Cumulative bets since January have totaled more than $3.9 billion, with gross gaming revenue at $274 million.

Mobile sports wagering GGR is taxed at 51%, meaning that since mobile sportsbooks opened, the state has made roughly $140 million.

According to Forbes, it took New Yorkers a mere 15 days after mobile sports betting was launched to hit $1 billion in gross revenue.

The New York Times reported that in January, New York brought in the most mobile sports betting money in the country with $1.67 billion, breaking New Jersey's $1.3 billion monthly record set in October. In February, New York bettors neared the record with $1.52 billion in wagers.

Katelyn E. LaMarche, of Dexter, has used a couple different applications, but says her favorite is FanDuel Sportsbook. She said she originally got into mobile sports betting because of the promotions that were offered.

FanDuel Sportsbook offered a $100 site credit for users who preregistered for an account prior to launch. FanDuel's latest promotion is $150 in site credit for new users placing their first bet of at least $5.

DraftKings Sportsbook offers, for New York customers, a bonus of 20% of the deposit amount, no higher than $1,000. Depositing $10, for example, would result in a $2 site credit.

Other applications that are live in New York include BallyBet, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, Wynn Interactive, PointsBet, Resorts World Bet and Rush Street Interactive, according to the New York Gaming Commission.

Ms. LaMarche said she has yet to put any money into the application because of the site credit she got when she originally signed up. In early March, she surpassed $3,000 in net winnings.

She said her wagers are based on feeling, though she has been placing the majority of her bets lately on the Philadelphia 76ers since James Harden and Paul Millsap were traded from the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Ben Simmons, Andre Drummond, Seth Curry and two first-round draft picks.

James Harden recorded his first triple-double for the Sixers on Feb. 27 against the New York Knicks, which won Ms. LaMarche $100, she said.

"I was so happy," Ms. LaMarche said of mobile sports betting coming to New York. "I was always so sad watching all the commercials about DraftKings and stuff, and I was like, 'But I can't bet.' And now you can and it's super hype."

Tyler M. Marolf, of Watertown, who also uses FanDuel Sportsbook, said he has put in about $400 and has won between $1,600 and $1,700.

Mr. Marolf decides on what games to bet on by watching players' trends. If a player is on a hot streak, he said he will place a bet on how many points he thinks a player will score.

He also said that he places bets based on "teams that I know and players that I know really well, just to make safe bets."

"I don't want to put in too much money on things I don't really know about," Mr. Marolf said.

Mr. Marolf said the most money he has wagered was for the Feb. 13 Super Bowl. He put $150 on the game and won $800 with the Los Angeles Rams' win.

Mr. Marolf said his "go-to" is the "same-game parlay." In order to win on these gambles, bettors must place at least two wagers on the same game. If a bettor parlays the bet, the payout is higher. However, in order to win on a parlay, all parts of the bet must be right.

Ms. LaMarche also prefers to do parlays.

"I really prefer putting together parlays," Ms. LaMarche said. "I feel like more risk, more reward. ... I like putting together $10 parlays. I feel like I won't lose a ton. Then, if I win, it's great because most of the time the odds that I like to bet is like $10 to win $120."

Mr. Marolf said he was extremely excited to see mobile sports betting finally come to the Empire State.

"Oh my God, I was stoked," Mr. Marolf said.

Ms. LaMarche said that she hopes to keep winning until she wins enough money to pay off her car.

"It's all free money, so it's just like, I'll keep it in, and when I can pay off the car, then I'll take it out," she said.

Winnings aren't exactly "free money," as they are subject to tax. Mobile sports betting winnings can be taxed up to 24% federally, according to Empire Stakes, an online sports betting resource. In New York, the state tax varies depending on how much money is won.

Any winnings up to $8,500 are subject to a 4% state tax, with a continuous climb to any winnings totaling $25,000,001 or more taxed at 10.9%, according to New York City residents are subject to an additional local tax.

Ms. LaMarche has been putting away around 38% of her winnings to cover anticipated taxes. Her total winnings, not accounting for taxes, exceed $4,200, she said.

"I probably have put more away in taxes than I need, but I'd rather do it that way than not have enough," she said.

Although mobile sports betting has seen people win, William W. Bowman, executive director of the Alcohol & Substance Abuse Council of Jefferson County, doing business as Pivot, says to look out for warning signs of a sports betting addiction.

"The thing that is different today is the ease, the ease of gambling on your phone," Mr. Bowman said. "I think statistically 5% to 10% of people who get involved with gambling go down a path where they get in trouble with it."

Warning signs can include chasing losses, hiding or lying about spending, other areas of life being impacted, spending more time gambling or being unable to cut back on gambling, Mr. Bowman said.

Mr. Bowman said to set a limit and, if people notice warning signs, to reach out for help.

"When it starts affecting finances, when people start chasing losses, when it affects their interpersonal relationships or their job, they should reach out before it gets further," Mr. Bowman said.

The ease of mobile sports betting concerns Mr. Bowman.

"Prior to this, sure there was lottery, you could get it locally, but (now you can) gamble on your phone, and I realize that internet gambling has been going on for a while," he said. "When there's more accessibility, when there's more availability, there's more gambling. When there's more gambling, it just goes to reason that there are more people who get in trouble with it."

Mr. Bowman said that Pivot, in Watertown's Marcy Building on Polk Street, is not against gambling, though it doesn't promote it. He said that Pivot recognizes that it is a legal recreational activity. At the same time, the organization encourages people who participate in gambling to know their limits, and to know the warning signs of gambling addiction.

FanDuel allows users to set limits on their accounts, whether it be deposit limits, wager limits or time limits.

To place a sports bet, you must be at least 21 years old and be physically present in New York, or any other state where sports betting is legal, though the minimum age varies. Sports betting is legal in 30 states and the District of Columbia, according to the American Gaming Association, but not all allow online or mobile sports betting. Ohio, Florida and Nebraska have legalized sports betting, but sportsbooks are not yet operational. Legislation to legalize sports betting is active in another 12 states.

If you or someone you know is struggling with gambling, New York's confidential hotline can be reached by texting 467369 or calling 1-877-846-7369.