BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament have passed and while the New York mobile betting data isn't out yet, Legal Sports Report Lead Writer Mike Mazzeo said there are signs the numbers will be big.
There was significant wagering he says on the conference tournaments and a compelling beginning to March Madness.
"That first weekend was incredible, just so many upsets, so many great storylines. The causal fan is interested, kind of just like the Super Bowl, so yeah I think you could see big numbers," he said.
Lawmakers may be watching closely to see if the state generates similar revenue during this year's tournament as last year, the first time mobile gaming was allowed. During a joint budget hearing earlier this year, executives for the two largest sportsbooks, FanDuel and DraftKings, argued New York's 51% tax rate would eventually stunt industry growth.
"I think a lot of the lawmakers were dubious and you've got to change their minds if you wanna get something going in terms of the Legislature and I don't think DraftKings and FanDuel moved the needle," Mazzeo said.
He said the governor's budget draft and the counter-proposals from both houses seem to indicate lawmakers are not yet concerned. None included proposals to, for instance, add more operators and lower the rate for existing ones.
On top of that, the governor's budget projects nearly $900 million in tax revenue again, after exceeding that total in year one. Mazzeo said the sportsbooks that decided to come into New York knowing the rate will likely have a tough time selling a change to the Legislature.
"Legislative season just falls in line with the NFL playoffs and then March Madness. They're always going to be making this argument at a time when sportsbooks are probably doing well and therefore there's a lot of tax revenue coming in. They're not making these arguments in August during baseball season when there's not a big sports betting menu," he said.
Mazzeo said the operators' threats of worse odds and less promos than other states hasn't really materialized yet. He believes they might have a better chance of convincing lawmakers to lower the rate if they open up their books and show concretely how they would make sure there wasn't a loss in tax revenue but to this point it hasn't happened.