NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The long wait for mobile sports betting in New York is almost over. People who want to use their cellphones or laptops to place wagers soon won't have to drive to New Jersey or Connecticut.
Some of the biggest names in the sports betting world have been granted licenses by the New York State Gaming Commission to offer online gambling on nine different sites.
But it could take a few more months for the gaming platforms to be up and running. Officials want to make sure the technical glitches are worked out and that the sites are so appealing that New Yorkers used to traveling to other states will want to stay home, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported.
"We have to have a premier product from Day 1. Otherwise, the savvy New York bettor will go right back in a millisecond, to go back to New Jersey or doing it illegally or Pennsylvania or what have you," said state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr., chairman of the Senate's Racing and Wagering Committee.
Addabbo said he expects the nine sites that will offer mobile gaming in New York will be operational in a matter of months, and then it will be off to the races, so to speak.
"The first bet in my opinion is going to be some time in January, during the NFL playoffs, and then we'll be up and running efficiently by the Super Bowl," Addabbo said.
The move is expected to be a cash cow for New York. State officials expect that betting on football, baseball, basketball and other sports can bring in $500 million a year, most of which will be earmarked for education. There is also $6 million for gambling addiction programs and $5 million for youth sports programs.
Officials say dealing with gambling addiction was a major concern of state lawmakers.
"You can't talk about the expansion of gaming in New York without dealing with the addiction issue," Addabbo said.
The Council on Compulsive Gambling in New Jersey told CBS2 that calls to its helpline skyrocketed after the Garden State legalized sports betting in 2018. It said 4% to 8% of its helpline calls related to gaming before mobile betting was legalized and that jumped to 15% in 2018, 35% in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it's at 15%-18% now.
New York has an ironclad plan for dealing with that by limiting bets to $2,500 a month.
"Once you go beyond that your account is frozen and you're contacted. 'Hey, is everything OK? Do you know you went over the limit? Is everything OK?' That's a safety measure. There's a cap on a credit card. Again, your account is frozen at $2,500," Addabbo said.
Local gamblers told Kramer they are excited.
"They're doing it in Jersey already. Everybody else is making money off it. Why shouldn't we?" said Frank Francavilli of Broad Channel, Queens.
"Great idea, something to do. I'm going to gamble right now. I play lotto ever day," a Howard Beach woman said, adding when asked if she'll place bets on her phone, "Yes, because it's exciting. It's something to look forward to."
"It should cut down on any underground betting, illegal gaming," added Nicholas Barnes of East Harlem.
Addabbo told Kramer that once the sports betting is up and running he can see it expanded to events like the Oscars or the Grammys. But when it comes to college sports, bets on New York teams are off limits. So if traditional basketball powerhouse St. John's is in the March Madness tournament, for example, New Yorkers will be plumb out of luck.
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