With ESPN Bet Entering New York, Legal iGaming Could Bring Hollywood Casino As Well

New York’s WynnBet Sportsbook will soon become ESPN Bet, according to the owner of the latter online sports betting app, Penn Entertainment. That Feb. 13 announcement could impact WynnBet Casino in Michigan and holds the promise of bringing Hollywood Casino to New York if the state legalizes iGaming.

Penn (Penn Entertainment 19,07 +1,87%) purchased the Wynn Resorts (Wynn Resorts 83,27 -0,32%) entity that holds WynnBet’s New York license for $25 million.

That means Penn gained New York market access, now held by WynnBet Sportsbook. So, pending a New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) license transfer approval, ESPN Bet will launch in the Empire State “in 2024.” That’s the process Fanatics Sportsbook recently underwent to get New York market access through such a transfer after buying the US businesses of PointsBet Holdings Limited (PointsBet Holdings Limited 0,32 0,00%).

Meanwhile, Hollywood Casino is Penn’s iGaming arm. It’s already taking bets in states including Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

However, it can’t accept gamblers’ deposits in New York unless SB8185 or another iGaming bill becomes law. That’s because right now, New York online casino gambling is illegal. State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., D-Woodhaven, proposed the legislation that would change that by authorizing legal New York online casino and poker gambling and iLottery. However, SB8185 hasn’t moved since Feb. 1 from the Senate Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee he leads.

The Michigan WynnBet Casino Question

Because Penn bought WSI US from Wynn Interactive Holdings, Bonus asked Wynn about WynnBet Casino in Michigan. Will it become ESPN Bet and Hollywood Casino?

After all, the Feb. 13 announcement includes this quote from Penn CEO and President Jay Snowden:

Together with ESPN, we’re building a brand that is synonymous with sports betting, and operating in the New York market is key as we grow ESPN BET across the US.

Seth Medvin — assistant vice president and marketing and communications professional with Wynn Sports Interactive (WSI) — told Bonus on Feb. 13:

The Michigan market remains under review.

That means that the Michigan online casino app will continue taking bets, even though the online sportsbook in Massachusetts is ceasing operations.

Plus, Penn is buying WynnBet’s parent brand.

Bonus observed on Feb. 13 that Michigan’s WynnBet Sportsbook and Casino site still lists WSI as the Sault Tribe Online Gaming (STOG) partner. That’s a Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians brand. The tribe owns and operates Kewadin Casinos.

So, Bonus asked Medvin:

The Michigan app shows it’s WSI. So, if Michigan is still under review, does that mean it will stay open until sale?

Medvin answered Bonus:

Nothing to share outside of the Michigan market remains under review. There is no additional context to add at this time.

New York Hollywood Casino Tax Rate Would Be 30.5%

New York leaders tout the online sports betting marketplace there as No. 1 in the nation.

Since sportsbooks launched on Jan. 8, 2022, New York’s 51% tax rate on its nine operators has filled state coffers.

So, ESPN Bet will enter a jurisdiction with more than $3.1 billion in revenue since the marketplace launched. New York has also collected nearly $1.6 billion in taxes to-date, according to Legal Sports Report. Bonus and LSR are Catena Media publications.

In January 2023, leaders from the top two revenue-generating sportsbooks in New York — DraftKings and FanDuelcomplained to New York lawmakers about the “high” sports betting tax rate. They said they needed a lower tax rate or legal iGaming to sustain their business models.

Addabbo’s SB8185 sets a tax rate of 30.5% for online casino and poker operators. The lawmaker believes New York could see $1 billion in tax revenue annually.

So, if SB8185 becomes law, Penn could pay a lower tax rate to New York for Hollywood Casino vs. ESPN Bet.

Possible New York Online Casino Apps

Like Penn’s ESPN Bet and Hollywood Casino, most New York sportsbook operators already have live online casino brands they could launch if iGaming is legalized.

New York sportsbooks with online casino arms include the following:

Resorts World Bet Is the Outlier

Resorts World Bet is working on launching an online casino site in New Jersey but doesn’t yet have a live iGaming arm. 

However, Resorts World Bet is the online sportsbook for Resorts World New York City. The land-based casino in Queens may also apply for a full downstate gaming license once the siting board appointed by the NYSGC opens up that process.

So, if SB8185 becomes law, it’s possible New York could house the brand’s first online casino. However, it’s worth noting that major union opposition is holding up the bill.

So, Hollywood Casino may have to wait for another year. However, ESPN Bet appears to be arriving in 2024.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is Lead Writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She specializes in breaking news, legislative coverage, and gambling marketing strategy overviews. To reach Heather with a news tip, email [email protected].
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