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New York Restaurants Want To Serve Up Sports Betting

Written By Derek Helling | Updated:
kiosks new york gambling sports betting

The NYRA likely supports the idea of expanded New York gambling and now it’s clear that the NYSRA does too. The New York State Restaurant Association, not to be confused with the New York Racing Association, would like its members to be on the menu for New York sports betting.

Earlier this week, the Association sent a statement for inclusion in the legislature’s review of legal online sports betting in New York. Put simply, the Association’s members want to ask patrons if they would like a parlay with that.

Restaurants’ proposal for New York gambling expansion

On Tuesday, the Joint Public Hearing on Mobile Sports Betting in New York considered many aspects of the industry in the state over the past year. The NYSRA included its statement with Elys Game Technology Corp. to the legislative committee. In short, it’s a wishlist from both organizations.

“We believe that New York state is in an ideal position to permit retail sports betting with such a robust hospitality scene. This environment can truly capture undiscovered bettors…by allowing restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and other…businesses to offer sports betting through terminals and kiosks.”

In plainer language, Elys and the NYSRA want the state to expand legal sports betting. Specifically to allow those businesses to contract with companies like Elys to put sports betting kiosks in their establishments. Elys and the host facility would get a share of any revenue such kiosks draw in.

Similar systems exist in Ohio and Washington, DC. In those places, any business eligible for a license to sell lottery tickets or pour liquor can also host sports betting kiosks. The footprint is quite small in DC, however, and that part of the Ohio sports betting landscape truly has not yet begun.

Currently, there is no legislation pushing for such an expansion in Albany. Some considerations could create room for debate if such a bill does surface, though.

Why restaurant owners might jump on board

As with most issues, support comes down to what a person’s particular interests are. According to Peter Romeo of Restaurant Business, beverage and food service business owners in New York could be on board with this proposal.

Romeo says the NYSRA pointed out “that a sports bar in Washington, DC reported collecting $1.4 million from on-site betting between the September start of the NFL season and late December.”

While that number might look tantalizing to NYSRA members, there are some caveats to consider. First, that $1.4 million over four months is revenue, not profit. All costs, including the kiosk operators’ share, taxes, licensing fees, staff training, and operational expenses came out of that total.

Additionally, that reporting does not disclose how much the kiosk generated during the other eight months of the year. During that time, facility operators still have to pay to maintain the system. In addition to paying any contractual or regulatory fees. In some months, that could represent a net loss. Hosts would have to hope to make those losses up during the busier season.

Other business owners, like commercial and tribal casino operators, would probably oppose such a measure. Currently, they are the only licensed physical sportsbooks in New York. They could see this idea as a threat to their revenues. Another consideration is how much this service would affect foot traffic.

Would sports betting kiosks drive customers away or bring them in?

Furthermore, there’s the consideration of whether simply offering the amenity is a net gain or loss. For establishments that bill themselves as family destinations or cater to more conservative clients, just the aesthetic of it being on the premise could drive customers away.

On the other hand, some customers could choose to patronize one establishment over another simply because it offers this service. Guests might come in to put down a bet on an event and then stay to watch the affair they have some money on.

Each business will have to gauge its clientele. To some degree, making the decision might be a matter of trial and error.

There’s a social responsibility element to this situation, too. Hosting such a kiosk could turn a bar or restaurant into an unsafe place for people who struggle with compulsive gambling issues and might be triggered by the kiosk. Building on that topic, there’s extra work for staff in terms of managing the situation of a customer with a pathological gambling issue.

There’s no debate about whether this would create a new revenue stream for NYSRA members. The issues that might prevent the proposal from actually becoming law could dry that stream up before it even begins to run, however.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

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