The NFL’s opening week was a big win for mobile gaming in the Empire State—no matter how the Bills, Giants and Jets finish this season.
The Empire State has claimed the mobile sports betting throne.
During the NFL’s first week, New York recorded 15.7 million mobile transactions on sports betting apps, according to Vancouver-based geolocation security company GeoComply.
New York, which launched its mobile sports betting market in January, accounted for 15.3% of all mobile transactions across the country during the NFL’s first week of games. In total, there was a record 103.1 million mobile transactions across the 21 states and Washington, D.C. that allow mobile sports betting during the opening weekend for the NFL—a 71.5% leap from last year, according to GeoComply.
Pennsylvania was ranked second in mobile betting volume with an impressive 15.3 million transactions, up nearly 30% from last year. New Jersey reported the third most transactions with 13.5 million and Michigan and Illinois ranked fourth and fifth, respectively.
Given the way mobile betting kicked off this year, New York was expected to be number one in betting volume during football season. Gamblers wagered $1.6 billion on sports through mobile gaming apps in New York during the state’s first month of taking action, according to a report by New York State Gaming Commission, beating the record for monthly handle set by New Jersey in October 2021. Gamblers wagered a total of $4.7 billion since the state’s program launched and New York has raked in $314.5 million in tax revenue.
Home field advantage could have also played into New York’s record-breaking volume. About 24 percent of transactions over the first week of football games were made on Thursday during the Buffalo Bills’ opener against the Los Angeles Rams. In the Buffalo area, volumes jumped 210% compared with the previous week’s Thursday pre-season game—signaling that the Bills’ faithful put real money behind their fandom. And the team is favored to win Super Bowl LVII next February.
“It’s a sign of many things,” says Anna Sainsbury, the CEO of GeoComply. “One, the population of New York, of course. It also shows that so many Americans are keen to interact with [and bet] on their favorite sports teams.”
New York, which has 19.5 million residents, is unlikely to cede the throne anytime soon. Neighboring New Jersey is also continuing to grow its mobile sports betting market. It was predicted that New York would cannibalize up tot 30% of its mobile gamblers, but GeoComply found that only 9.3% of New York players placed bets previously in New Jersey during the first month of New York’s launch. As legal sports betting gains popularity, illegal bookies see their business decline. According to a survey published by the American Gaming Association, among people who plan to bet on NFL games this season, 13% said they would use a bookie, down from 15% of gamblers in 2021 and 18% in 2020.
“New Jersey has continued to grow,” says Sainsbury. “It’s now a mature market, and many of the people in the state have all their [gambling] accounts with licensed operators. It almost took eight years to get to this point, where only 4% of the market might still have offshore accounts. A lot of the growth is from [gamblers] closing those offshore accounts and opening up accounts with the licensed operators.”
There are only a few states that could rival and potentially usurp New York. Florida, Texas and California are the last big states without legal mobile sports betting markets. When asked if New York can remain king of mobile betting when California—which has 39.3 million residents and is expected to vote on mobile sports betting legalization this year—launches its long-anticipated mobile sports betting market, Sainsbury is candid: “I doubt it,” she says. “It’s generally based on population. If you have a state with a larger population, and you will probably see a larger market.”